Roughly contemporary with the string quartets of Op 17 and Op 20, No 44 and No 20 are the earliest works Haydn designated ‘sonata’ rather than ‘divertimento’. Both recreate the spirit of Emanuel Bach’s Empfindsamkeit in terms of Haydn’s own more dynamic, ‘goal-oriented’ idiom. No 44 in G minor, in just two movements, exudes a melancholy intimacy unique among his sonatas. Its opening movement, permeated by the main theme’s initial triplet upbeat, rises to a magnificent, densely textured contrapuntal climax in the development; and the delicately ornamental G minor/major minuet sublimates galant gestures into pure pathos. Haydn embellishes the repeat of the G minor section, à la Emanuel Bach, and then introduces a truncated version of the G major trio (itself a variant of the G minor theme) as a coda.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2012