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The Notturno has all the scintillating argumentativeness and wit that one might expect of mature Haydn. Its outer movements, in particular, occupy a niche between the conversational style of Haydn’s contemporary string quartets and the grand public statements of his ‘London’ Symphonies. The central ‘Adagio’ is one of his sublime ternary-form inspirations, with a particularly muted minore section in the middle. In the fragility of its textures, which often diminish into just two voices, the ‘Adagio’ looks back to the delicate symphonic slow movements so characteristic of Haydn in the early 1770s. And in its London version the ghostly nostalgia which ought to have permeated the midnight performances in Naples still echoes through the new scoring. But energetic comedy has the last word. The ‘hunting’ ‘Finale’ certainly brings a smile to the face, but repose? It must have been hard to get off to sleep after this.
from notes by Timothy Jones © 2016