With most of the autographs lost, the exact dating of Haydn’s sonatas is often speculative. Although it was first published (without Haydn’s knowledge) by the London firm of Beardmore & Birchall in 1783, the D major sonata No 33 was circulating in manuscript copies several years earlier, and could even date from as early as 1773. While modest in its technical demands (a contemporary reviewer remarked that Haydn seemed to have taken special care to make it easy), it is a thoroughly delightful piece. Its opening Allegro, launched by a ‘rocketing’ arpeggio figure, begins in prompt, no-nonsense style, but later develops a vein of waywardness with its whimsical hesitations and pauses. The second movement is a gravely eloquent D minor Adagio that combines the outlines of sonata form with the spirit of a free fantasia. As with many of C P E Bach’s slow movements, the music never comes to a full close but dissolves into the finale, a minuet that varies in turn a pair of related themes, one in the major, the other in the minor.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009