Franz Joseph Haydn

Keyboard Sonata in C major, H. 16/50

    Description by John Palmer

    Until Beethoven, the piano sonata was not composed as a vehicle for virtuoso technique -- that was the domain of the concerto -- but as entertainment for amateurs in the privacy of their homes. Many such pieces were written for students, often as something of an exercise. Haydn had a number of students for whom he composed piano sonatas, and the wide range of ability among his students accounts for the disparate levels of sophistication we find among the over 50 surviving sonatas. Some of these works have been lost because Haydn gave the manuscripts to his students without making copies.

    Two of Haydn's sonatas, the Sonatas in C major and E flat major (Hoboken XVI: 50 and 52), were not written for students, but for Therese Jansen, a leading pianist in London who had studied with Clementi. Haydn composed them in 1794-1795, during his second visit to the English capital. The two sonatas give evidence not only of Jansen's formidable technique, but of the more powerful sonority of the English piano in comparison to its German and Austrian counterparts. The C major sonata, in particular, betrays its temporal proximity to Haydn's unpredictable "London" Symphonies and their frequent eccentricities. The "additive" process at the opening of the first movement is only one example.

    The first Allegro is one of the most impressive monothematic sonata-form movements in Haydn's output. The first theme is a sparse articulation of the tonic triad that pauses in its sixth measure. After a transition that is significantly longer than the first theme, Haydn arrives at the dominant, G major, restating the theme, this time in double notes and accompanied by rising scales in the left hand. More scales and variations close the exposition. In the development section, the material passes through numerous harmonies while the theme is reduced to only one of its fragments -- a falling octave that changes to different intervals. The recapitulation is highly modified and contains some new material. Because the secondary theme is the same as the first, there is no need to "resolve" it to the tonic, so Haydn skips ahead to the ensuing passages.

    Highly expressive and technically demanding, the Adagio was clearly written for an accomplished musician. Set in the subdominant, F major, the movement is in sonata form with a brief development section. The brilliant right-hand octave passages in the second theme group contrast with the delicate, arched opening theme and attest to Ms. Jansen's technique.

    Much as in the Rondo finale of Haydn's Symphony No. 88, the recurrent theme in the Allegro finale of the C major sonata serves as variation fodder for the intervening episodes. There are teasing moments when only part of the rondo theme returns while frequent pauses heighten the listeners' anticipation.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegro molto

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Steinway & Sons
    STNS 30110
    2018
    Steinway & Sons
    STNS 30068
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 902371
    2018
    Warner Classics
    567110
    2017
    Somm
    SOMMCD 0162
    2017
    Sony Classical
    88985395212
    2016
    MSR Classics
    MS 1616
    2016
    Lawo Classics
    LWC 1094
    2015
    Melodiya
    MELCD 1002349
    2015
    Sony Classical
    88875032222
    2015
    Anima Records
    ANM 1412000
    2015
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 15021
    2015
    Sony Classical
    88843014702
    2015
    ABC Classics
    ABC 4812222
    2015
    ABC Classics
    ABC 4812225
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4795440
    2014
    Bridge
    BCD 9438
    2014
    Linn Records
    CKD 464
    2013
    Warner Classics
    IA 696205
    2013
    TwoPianists
    TP 1039176
    2013
    Herisson
    LH 08
    2013
    Acis Productions
    APL 83148
    2013
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 12037
    2013
    MDG
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88725412932
    2012
    MSR Classics
    MS 1375
    2012
    Preiser Records
    PR 91206
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4790058
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2011
    Meridian Records
    84592
    2011
    Amon Ra
    5
    2011
    Nonesuch
    519791
    2011
    Labor Records
    LAB 7088
    2011
    Divox
    25240
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Berlin Classics
    0300038
    2010
    Gramola
    98862/63
    2010
    JRI Recordings (formerly Jupiter) / JRI Recordings
    126
    2010
    BIS
    1788
    2010
    Preiser Records
    90770
    2009
    Dal Segno
    042
    2009
    Decca
    4781369
    2009
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0149492
    2009
    Various Artists
    Denon Records
    2009
    Harmonia Mundi
    2961994
    2009
    Centaur Records
    2975/6
    2009
    Ondine
    1154
    2008
    ABC Classics
    4766929
    2008
    BIS
    1731/3
    2008
    CBS Masterworks
    714852
    2008
    Warner Classics
    4696206
    2008
    dB Productions
    121
    2008
    Fleur de Son Classics
    57990
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4777564
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4776656
    2008
    Naxos
    8501042
    2007
    Bridge
    9226
    2007
    Hyperion
    67554
    2007
    Warner Classics
    2007
    Warner Classics
    69967
    2007
    Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007
    Decca
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4429484
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99817
    2006
    Channel Productions
    6014
    2006
    Naim
    89
    2006
    Warner Classics
    63782/10
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000743302
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000764972
    2006
    Doremi Records
    78649
    2005
    Miro Classical Records / Miro Classical Records
    angelajiakim2
    2005
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
    82876673762
    2005
    Capriccio Records
    49404
    2005
    Cybele
    130101
    2005
    Claves
    502501
    2005
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    4060
    2004
    Sony Classical
    92766
    2004
    Virgin
    62259
    2004
    Channel Classics
    19703
    2004
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92395
    2004
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4748752
    2004
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000204702
    2002
    Musicians Showcase
    1078
    2001
    Camerata Records
    25CM547
    2001
    Angel Records / Erato
    7243561881
    2001
    INA Memoire Vive
    005
    2001
    RCA
    63844
    2000
    BIS
    994
    1999
    Teldec
    17141
    1999
    Philips Classics
    446921
    1999
    VAI Audio
    1177
    1998
    Ivory Records
    IC70806
    1998
    Hungaroton
    11625/6
    1997
    London
    443785
    1997
    London
    443 785-2LC12(1)
    1997
    Berlin Classics
    0092 392BC
    1996
    Virgin
    45254
    1996
    Philips
    446920
    1995
    Arte Nova
    27780
    1994
    Naxos
    550657
    1994
    Sony Classical
    52623
    1993
    Arabesque
    6625
    1993
    Centaur Records
    2118
    1993
    Titanic
    156
    1992
    Vox
    5017
    1992
    Astree
    7714
    1992
    Nonesuch
    79162
    1990
    CBS Records
    44918
    1990
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
    77160
    1986
    Philips
    416643
    Philips
    470023
    Brilliant
    92395/23
    Brilliant Classics
    99817/2
    Teldec
    Memoire Vive
    262005
    Philips
    411045
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
    38218-20
    Eufoda
    1230
    FSM Adagio
    91635
    Bayer Records
    100071
    No Labels
    Divox
    25220
    CBS Records Masterworks
    39562
    Pro Recordings
    Melodiya
    25178
    Melodiya
    25172