Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Menuetto
Movement 3: Adagio
Movement 4: Fuga a 2 soggetti
The powerful minuet contrasts a strenuous forte statement with a plaintive piano answer which Mozart perhaps remembered in the minuet of his G minor String Quintet. In the second half Haydn prolongs and intensifies the forte statement and enhances the poignancy of the piano reply with a surprise harmonic deflection. After this almost unrelieved emphasis on F minor, the F major trio brings harmonic balm, though with its irregular phrase lengths it is not quite so innocent as it may first seem. F major returns in the limpid Adagio, whose guileless siciliano theme is freely varied with quasi-improvisatory arabesques from the first violin. Of the three fugal finales in Op 20, No 5’s double fugue, based on a common tag used by Handel in Messiah (‘And with his stripes we are healed’) and Mozart in the Kyrie of the Requiem, is the most austerely Baroque in flavour—though a Baroque fugue in F minor would not have modulated as far afield as A flat minor. Haydn here displays every contrapuntal trick of the trade: inversion, stretto (i.e. with thematic entries piling in on top of each other) and, near the end, a climactic fortissimo canon between first violin and cello, all the more dramatic after so much tense sotto voce.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011