Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choir-school of St. Stephen's Cathedra' in Vienna, he spent some years earning a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard, and was able to learn from the old musician Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn's first appointment was in 1759 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in 1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by his brother Prince Nikolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in the same employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.
On the completion of the magnificent palace at Esterháza in the Hungarian plains under the new Prince, Haydn assumed command of an increased musical establishment. Here he had responsibility for the musical activities of the palace, which included the provision and direction of instrumental music, opera and theatre music, and music for the church. For his patron he provided a quantity of chamber music of all kinds, particularly for the Prince's own peculiar instrument, the baryton, a bowed string instrument with sympathetic strings that could also be plucked.
On the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790, Haydn was able to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concert season organized by the violinist-impresario Salomon. A second successful visit to London in 1794 and 1795 was followed by a return to duty with the Esterházy family, the new head of which had settled principally at the family property in Eisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career. Much of the year, however, was to be spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years, dying in 1809, as the French armies of Napoleon approached the city yet again.
The classical keyboard sonata developed during the eighteenth century, the changes in its form and content taking place during Haydn's life-time. This formal development took place during a period when keyboard instruments themselves were changing, with the harpsichord and clavichord gradually replaced by the new hammer-action fortepiano. There are some fourteen early harpsichord sonatas attributed to Haydn. Of his 47 later keyboard sonatas, dating from about 1765, the first thirty were designed for harpsichord and the next nine for harpsichord or piano. The remaining eight sonatas include seven specifically intended for piano and one for piano or harpsichord. The principal musical difference between music for harpsichord and that for the piano lies in the possibilities for gradual dynamic change with the newer instrument, indications of which appear in Haydn's later sonatas.
In 1780 Artaria published a set of six piano sonatas by Haydn, dedicated to the sisters Caterina and Marianna Auenbrugger, daughters of Leopold von Auenbrugger and talented performers. Writing to his wife from Vienna in August 1773, Leopold Mozart had remarked on the ability of the two girls, both of whom played really well, he told her, and were thoroughly musical. In 1781 their father provided Salieri with a German libretto, Der Rauchfangkehrer, which Mozart, newly established in Vienna, castigated in a letter to his father, referring to Dr. Auenbrugger as Dr. Auernszucker. It is clear that these sonatas by Haydn were not all new. In particular the sixth, in C minor, not here included, was written in 1771. Haydn found it necessary to excuse the similarity between the first movement of the new G major Sonata and the second movement of the Sonata in C sharp minor, an older work. The new compositions for this publication of sonatas for the Clavicembalo o Forte Piano were, it seems, the sonatas in C, D and G major.
The first of the set, the Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI: 35, is among the better known. It opens with a cheerful first subject, allowing the convention al announcement of a second subject, an opportunity for some display in the development and a varied return of the thematic material in the recapitulation. The F major Adagio opens in stately mood, its first theme repeated in an embellished form and returning transposed and varied to form a central section, before the return of secondary thematic material, now in the tonic key. The last movement is dominated by its principal theme, with a contrasted passage in C minor before its final, triumphant return.
The second sonata is in the key of C sharp minor and opens ominously enough before moving to E major, where the same theme now has a contrapuntal accompaniment in descending scales. The development, based on this material, gives a chance for dramatic display, before the return of the opening motif and key and the subsequent recapitulation. The second movement, Scherzando, offers a lightening of mood. There is an opening section in A major, followed by a contrasting section in A minor. These are then presented in variation followed by the return of the opening A major theme, a varied episode in the same key, before the final appearance of the principal subject. The sonata ends with a Menuet in C sharp minor, framing a C sharp major.
The Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI: 37, again gives scope for modest brilliance in its opening theme and the following transition, as well as in its contrasted second subject, all of which offers material for development before the return of the first subject and key in recapitulation. The slow movement, a D minor Largo e sostenuto, is very short, almost in the manner of a Baroque movement that serves to introduce a rapid finale. The last movement here, marked Presto ma non troppo, also bears the instruction innocentemente, an apt indication of the character of the principal theme. It serves to punctuate a D minor and a G major episode, before re-appearing in a final ebullient section.
The Auenbrugger sonatas continue with a Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI: 38. The monothematic first movement duly explores foreign keys in its central development and provides a chance for virtuosity in the transitional material that links first and second subject of the recapitulation. A C minor Adagio has moments of distinct drama, leading, without a break, to a final movement in which the principal theme is repeated after a central episode in A flat major.
The Sonata in G major, Hob. XVI: 39, like the second movement of the C sharp minor Sonata, which it closely resembles, follows the major first subject with an excursion into the tonic minor. A variation of the first section follows, with an E minor section preceding the final return of the first key and theme. The slow movement, a C major Adagio, has almost the stature of a concerto movement, as it unfolds. It is followed by a lively final movement in which the first theme provides much of the substance of the second. There is further harmonic exploration in the development, before the recapitulation, now reaching a lower register of the keyboard.
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jandó has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. He has recorded for Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
ReviewsJeno Jando's Haydn gets better and better... He abjures the tense, up-tight manner of today's fortepiano specialists, maintaining a beaustiful rounded tone on a loverly grand piano, gorgeously seem presented by Naxos. Jando possesses an innate musicality which makes most other performances seem studied or mannered by comparison... Volumes four and five are most highly recommended. - James H North