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The opening movement—Allegro assai con brio—is one of the most dramatic and disconcerting that Haydn ever composed: just try predicting the phrase lengths or where the each cadence is going to fall! A calm and relatively graceful second subject offers some balm, though again with some unpredictable qualities to keep listeners on their toes. The second subject’s opening phrase deceptively launches the development section, before the music is hurled into turmoil by the resurgence of the first theme. The second movement Andante offers relative if uneasy calm. One may suspect Mozart had this movement in mind when he wrote his celebrated minor-key Symphony No 40 in 1788: like Haydn’s movement, his second starts in deceptive tranquillity, but become increasingly disquieted (quite unlike the slow movement of Beethoven’s Fifth). The third movement, again, anticipates Mozart in the brusque style and unpredictable strong beats of its opening and closing minuet, contrasted with a relatively courtly trio section. The Symphony ends with the relentless bustle of a Presto finale.
from notes by Daniel Jaffé ï¿½ 2015