The group of sonatas Nos 27–32 was published privately in manuscript copies in 1776, though No 29 in F major dates from two years earlier. More than anything in the ‘Esterházy’ sonatas, the first movement of No 29, with its comic false starts and wildly disparate textures and rhythmic patterns, might be dubbed a ‘burlesque’ of C P E Bach. Underlying its waywardness, though, is Haydn’s mastery of long-range sonata strategy, right through to a recapitulation that continues to develop the material of the exposition. Eccentric as the movement is, it never sounds like an agglomeration of random ideas, as superficially similar pieces by Emanuel Bach sometimes can. It is characteristic of Haydn’s keyboard slow movements that the ornate Adagio relies more on gesture and rhetorical flourishes than on lyrical melody. The finale, a minuet with variations, contains a beautiful syncopated F minor trio, akin to the minor-keyed trios in the early sonatas, but much subtler in the polyphonic weave of its textures.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2012