Haydn rarely returned to the minor key for a symphony after the emotionally heavily laden works of his Sturm und Drang period in the 1760s and ’70s, but when he did, as in No 83, the result is on a par with the equivalent works of Mozart (whose own G minor symphonies date from 1773 and 1788). Though perhaps only Haydn would have counterpointed an earnest G minor opening with the naive humour of his ‘clucking’, major-key second subject, from which the symphony derives its nickname, ‘The Hen’. It is in fact a work in which the major key comes to dominate: the first movement itself is brought to a close in a triumphant G major. The Andante is in E flat major and is a movement full of dramatic dynamic contrasts, while the Minuet is perhaps a little more Germanic than that of No 82 and the finale is a sprightly G major galop.
from notes by Matthew Rye © 1992