Published in 1784 by the firm of Bossler, the sonata triptych Nos 40–42 was dedicated, perhaps as a wedding gift, to the sixteen-year-old Princess Marie Hermenegild Esterházy, who the previous year had married Haydn’s future patron Prince Nicolaus II. For all their surface lightness, all three sonatas—later published in arrangements (probably not by Haydn) for string trio—are sophisticated, subtly wrought works. No 42 opens with a set of increasingly florid variations on a gracious theme punctuated by rhetorical silences. The effect here is of heightened speech. Despite its air of insouciance, the quicksilver finale is another of Haydn’s tightly concentrated movements, developing the two phrases of its theme in sinewy imitative textures, right down to the witty, throwaway end.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009