No 82 gained its nickname of ‘The Bear’ from the opening of its finale, with its heavy, drone-like ostinato bass. But there is an almost animal-like vigour and excitement too to the opening movement, dominated by the aggressive repeated semiquavers of its first subject. The Allegretto bears a resemblance to variation form, but Haydn’s treatment of his theme is characteristically idiosyncratic, with two minor-key ‘B’ sections alluding to the contours of the main theme, but recognizably asserting their own individuality. With the Minuet he favours French grace and grandeur over Germanic rusticity (indeed, in most of these symphonies he uses the French term menuet) and in the trio he courts the reputed esteem of the Olympique’s wind players. This continues in the (definitely rustic) finale, a sonata movement in which the aforementioned ‘bear-like’ ostinato marks each structural moment.
from notes by Matthew Rye © 1992