Repertoire || Tao Lin, Pianist


FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (1732 - 1809)

Piano Sonata in C major, Hoboken XVI:50
  Allegro molto

Haydn's sprightly three-movement sonata relies heavily on variation procedure. Its initial motive, presented at first in short, detached notes, is soon reincarnated as powerful arpeggiated chords. In the second subject area, Haydn transforms this opening theme, expressing the principal motives as octaves in the left hand, while the right hand plays rapid figuration. Many such variants are heard in the opening Allegro, including two hushed pianissimo passages in which Haydn obtains special atmospheric effects through use of the open damper pedal. In the ensuing Adagio as well, a variation process unfolds as rhapsodic flights of fancy expressed through elaborate and ingenious decoration of the original themes.
Alfred Brendel has pointed to comic features of the closing Allegro molto, including "the teasing avoidance of classical four- or eight-bar patterns, the abortive storm in D minor that peters out almost before it begins, and its laughing and bouncing staccatos." Yet most provocative, as he notes, is the impression of a faux pas when the player crashes with a jolt onto a surprising B-major chord already in measure 10. This clownish challenge to solemn rationality celebrates the capacity of the artwork to move beyond predictable paths. As it turns out, this gesture returns in the recapitulation, emphasized by a ritardando, and here again, the detour from the expected is followed by a brief yet meaningful pause. For Haydn, such "splendid nonsense" belongs to the deep roots of the imagination, delightfully critiquing any closed system of thought.