In 1789, the Leipzig publisher Breitkopf announced that Haydn was writing ‘six Clavier sonatas’ for publication by subscription. Breitkopf evidently failed to attract sufficient subscribers, and in the event only one sonata appeared, the C major No 48. Although in two movements only, like the sonatas for Marie Esterházy, it is far grander than they are, and exploits the fortepiano’s whole range with unprecedented power and flamboyance. In the sonata-rondo finale the keyboard even becomes a surrogate orchestra. The second half of the contredanse theme evokes bantering repartee between bassoons and oboes, while just before the end a rousing tutti, complete with timpani rolls, is comically deflated by timidly stuttering violins. Just as original in its sonorities is the opening Andante con espressione, music both elevated and capricious that crosses Haydn’s favourite double variation form (the minore theme is both a variation and a development of the rhapsodic opening) with the spirit of a free fantasia.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009