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Haydn Sonatas: Galanterien to Sturm und Drang/Ulrika Davidsson
Haydn Sonatas - Ulrika Davidsson

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Program and Notes
Haydn Sonatas: Galanterien to Sturm und Drang
Ulrika Davidsson, clavichord and fortepiano
One of Sweden's leading keyboard artists, Ulrika Davidsson, gives fresh readings of these Haydn sonatas on clavichord and fortepiano.

on Clavichord:

Sonata in D Major, Hoboken XVI:14
Allegro moderato
Finale. Presto

Sonata in B flat Major, Hoboken XVI:2

On Fortepiano:

Sonata in E flat Major, Hoboken XVI:28
   Allegro moderato
Finale. Presto

Sonata in G Minor, Hoboken XVI:44


Sonata in F Major, Hoboken XVI:23
Finale. Presto

Sonata in E flat Major, Hoboken XVI:52
Finale. Presto

TOTAL TIME:                     77:41

Program Notes


From Galanterien to Sturm und Drang

Franz Joseph Haydn’s large body of solo sonatas exceeds 60 in number, though some are lost, and the dates of their creation span more than 40 years. The earliest were written in his youth, in the early 1750s in Vienna, and the last were written in the span from 1791through 1795 during Haydn’s forays to London. There is great diversity in the material, technically and stylistically as well as musically, and they are recognized for their ingenuity and individuality. Every piece has its own set of figurations and its own motives and keyboard textures. Haydn seems to have had an endlessly flowing source of imagination and creativity when it came to exploring a variety of musical ideas. Regardless of the relative complexity of the pieces, Haydn managed to create music which entices the Kenner, or connoisseur, as well as it pleases the Liebhaber (amateur), and that incorporates the characteristic features of many styles, from the galant style, the Empfindsamkeit (the “sensitive style” of the late Baroque), and the Sturm und Drang (an emotional style full of “storm and stress”).

In the Baroque era, most pieces or movements of a larger work contained one single basic character, or Affekt. With the emergence of the galant style in the 1730s, rhetorical concepts still informed musical practice, but the music now expressed constantly changing moods and Affekts. Rather than general emotional states, such as joy, sadness, love, etc., the subjective and changing feelings of an individual (the composer) or of a programmatic idea were expressed. Contrast and variety became the norm. From the galant style, a more intensely expressive style emerged, the so-called Empfindsamer Stil (“highly sensitive style”). It could be expressed by frequent dynamic changes, large leaps, dissonant harmonies, and unexpected rests. Musical characteristics of this kind are well suited to express constantly changing and subjective moods. The foremost advocate for this style was C. P. E. Bach, and according to him, the instrument most suited to express these innermost feelings was the clavichord. (Haydn most likely owned a copy of Bach’s treatise Versuch über die Wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen.) He was also acquainted with some of C. P. E. Bach’s sonatas.

Sturm und Drang
, a style which emerged in the 1770s, can be described as a more dramatic version of the Empfindsamkeit style. It was expressed by yet more abrupt changes, chromaticism, the use of minor keys, syncopations, and characteristic rhythms.

The keyboard works of Haydn incorporate the best of all these styles: the gallant, the Empfindsamkeit, and the Sturm und Drang. The various styles are reflected, in the music, by the increasing number of detailed directions for performance in the score, in terms of dynamic indications and articulation, as well as the overall change in texture and dramatic layout.

The “Shakespeare of music”

Haydn was praised for his musical rhetoric, and was referred to as “the Shakespeare of music.” Communication of the passions and the various sentiments in a piece was central to eighteenth-century thoughts on performance. A rich vocabulary of characteristic musical figures had developed, which were associated with various feelings and Affekts. They are usually referred to as “topics,” or subjects for musical discourse.  Dances, with their various rhythms and other characteristics, were often used as such topics. A sturdy gavotte had different connotations than an elegant sarabande; a minuet referred to the courtly life, whereas a ländler (piece based on a folk tune) signified the lower social classes. Other “topics” Haydn frequently alluded to were the singing style; the brilliant style; the musette; the pastorale; the learned style or fugue versus galant style; Empfindsamkeit; Sturm und Drang; and the free fantasia. The connection between rhetoric and music was extensively discussed, for instance in the 1739 treatise Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (“The Perfected Chapelmaster”) by Johann Mattheson, a work we know that Haydn had in his library. Clarity of speech was of utmost importance, since a performance was often referred to as a musical declamation, and the musician as an orator and actor had to clearly communicate the character of the topics.

Character and tempo

The successful rendering of musical character depends on the choice of tempo. Various writers in the eighteenth century stressed that there are several factors one has to consider when choosing an appropriate tempo. The main issues are the meter, the tempo designation, the smallest note value, the harmonic pulse, and the Affekt or character of the movement. What we often call “tempo” designation is much more a “character” designation than an indicator of a specific tempo. For the player, the words adagio or allegretto give a sense of the character, or mood, and a feeling of physical movement (called Bewegung). The actual tempo that will suit a piece is then dependent on the interplay between the other factors mentioned. From this it follows that one allegro in 4/4 might have a very different actual tempo (as reflected in the numbers on a metronome) than another allegro in 4/4. The choice of tempo should not be the projection of a limited number of standard formulas or the projection of the performer’s spontaneous subjective preference, but rather a sensitive search for the balance of interacting compositional parameters inherent in each piece. The clue to the tempo is to be found in the piece itself, and its purpose is to render a musical character and its topics.

The selected sonatas

The two sonatas performed on clavichord on this recording are early works in the galant style, written before or around 1760. Both belong to the category of Kenner sonatas, with rich textures and technically more challenging than Liebhaber works. The first movement of the Sonata in D, Hoboken XVI:14, Allegro moderato, is rich in its rhythmic vocabulary, and therefore, as is common in opening movements in Haydn’s early works, the pace of the quarter note is quite slow. It has a wonderful liveliness in its declamatory speaking style. There is no “slow” middle movement; rather, a minuet follows, which has brilliant runs in the minuet proper, contrasted with slower note values and an expressive minor mode in the trio. The highly energetic Presto finale exposes brilliant keyboard textures while expressing playful joy.


The first movement of the Sonata in B-flat, Hoboken XVI:2, shows some similarities to the opening movement of the previous sonata. This unhurried Moderato explores the speaking style, in spite of its fanfare-like opening motive. The hauntingly beautiful second movement in g minor is one of only two largos in Haydn’s entire sonata output. One reason it is so unusual might be the problem of sustaining the sound with the quick decay of tone of the keyboard instruments. In this movement, that problem is solved by the repetition of chords in the left hand which keeps the sound going, in the manner of a Vivaldi Largo for strings. This serious and Empfindsam movement displays rhythmic patterns and ornamentation which are quite unique to Haydn’s writing. The last movement is a carefree minuet in Ländler style containing a trio section with pleading motives in the minor mode.

More Galanterien than Empfindsamkeit can be heard in theSonata in E-flat, Hoboken XVI:28, from 1776. In this Liebhaber type, directed to the Viennese amateur rather than the virtuoso professional, the music is accessible and direct. The Allegro moderato in 3/4 is pleasing and elegant. The relatively thin texture and slow harmonic pulse lightens the character. The Minuet has a noble character, and therefore the pace is a little restrained. The moderator (a strap of wool fabric inserted between the hammer heads and the strings) is used for the trio section in minor mode, to emphasize its introvert character. The spirited Finale presto in 2/4 is in strophic variation form. The theme has eighth notes as the fastest note value; therefore, the movement works best in a faster tempo.

TheSonata in g, Hoboken XVI:44, from around 1770, is introverted and personal. This two-movement chamber-style sonata shows a clear influence from the Empfindsamkeit and C. P. E. Bach. It is not known for whom it is written, and might just have been a personal reflection and experiment by Haydn. The Moderato is full of strong contrasts and rhetorical pauses, and is very rich in its emotional contents. By the end of the movement, there is a beautiful cadenza that captures the lyrical essence of the entire piece. The second movement, Allegretto, has the rhythmic character of a minuet or Ländler. It is a hybrid variation, and uses modal mixture, thus alternating minor and major as a contrasting element, a technique Haydn successfully used in several pieces, among them the f-minor variations.

TheSonata in F, Hoboken XVI:23, written in 1773, was dedicated to and printed for Haydn’s famous patron Prince NikolausEsterházy. The first movement lacks character designation, and should thus be played in the so-called tempo giusto, its own proper and natural tempo. It is written in 2/4 meter, but it is structurally rather a movement in 4/8 (a notation Haydn never uses), which influences the character of the metric accentuation and the pace. It starts out with a march-like motive, followed by the speaking style and later the brilliant style with a virtuosic display of keyboard figurations.

The serene Adagio in f minor is one of the most beautiful keyboard movements by the composer. The moderator is used throughout the piece, as is the damper pedal, imitating the early fortepianos where the damping device was operated by a lever, and thus was either on or off. The movement looks back to the Baroque in that it refers to the dance siciliano in the opening motive. Furthermore, it uses one continuous accompanimental figure throughout. The Presto finale is full of mischief and wit, nagging motives and humorous teasing. The texture is light and the higher register of the keyboard is often used, thus a fast pace and a lively character is the natural choice for performance.

Haydn was sensitive to the specific characteristics of pianos by different makers, and on his first trip to London in 1791 he had encountered the English action grand piano. His last three sonatas, which are dedicated to the gifted and acclaimed performer Therese Jansen Bartolozzi, bear witness on his musical response to its expansive sonorities and rich sound. TheSonata in E-flat, Hoboken XVI:52, from 1794, was published as a “Grande Sonate.” The full, rich chords, figurations spanning the entire compass, and shocking dynamic contrasts, are, for Haydn, new pianistic effects, and show that he is entering the early Romantic era.

The first movement displays a string of different and abruptly changing topics. The opening rhythm alludes to the French Overture style. Later there are examples of the galant style, brilliant style, legato style, and Sturm und Drang. One might find the pace of the quarter note unusually slow for a 4/4 Allegro. The music, however, is not slow; it is the musical contents that define the tempo. The rich and varied rhythmic vocabulary and the frequent use of thirty-second notes require sufficient time. Allegro is the designation for the character, not the metronomical tempo.

The sarabande disappeared as a dance by the end of the eighteenth century, but the style and its character as topic remained. We find this slow, serious dance, with its emphasis on the second beat, in the Adagio movement in E major. The form is ABA, and in the B section in e minor, the dance topic is less prominent and the music is dominated by a declamatory style.

The Finale presto is also inspired by dance topics like the contredanse and the musette, as well as the brilliant style. Its character is humorous and witty, topics that are constantly recurring in Haydn’s output. The choice of tempo is motivated more by the virtuosic brilliant texture than the sturdy contredanse.

The highly unusual key relationship between the movements—E-flat / E major / E- flat—presents a polarity that produces an enhanced contrasting expression.



In the second half of the eighteenth century, the harpsichord, clavichord, and the Viennese fortepiano shared many characteristics, and well into the 1780s keyboard music was played interchangeably on all of them. Haydn’s earlier works were written for the harpsichord, the dominating keyboard performance instrument at the time. But they also lend themselves particularly well for execution on the expressive clavichord. If not for performance, Haydn most likely used the clavichord for practicing, teaching and composing. In general, fortepianos became widely available in the 1770s and 1780s, and at that time there was no clear-cut distinction between harpsichord and fortepiano music. In order to bring out the full expressive range and rhetorical content of Haydn’s music, on this recording the two dynamically most sensitive instruments, the clavichord and the fortepiano, have been used.


Instruments used in the recording

The fortepiano used here was built in 2004 by Monika May, Marburg, Germany. It is a modified copy of a Viennese piano by Anton Walter, ca 1785, which is in the possession of the builder. Range: FF-g’’’. It has three knee levers, one for the moderator, one for raising the dampers completely, and one for raising the damper rail on the treble side, so that the upper register is undamped, the middle is successively more damped, and the bass is completely damped. This enables the player to vary the resonance in the instrument and support the upper register with more sustained sound even when the overall desired effect is one of clarity.

The Walter type instrument has a wide expressive range. It has great clarity, quick speech, and efficient damping suitable for the earlier sonatas. The touch is almost as sensitive as that on the clavichord. For the later classical and early romantic repertoire it provides a strong, full sound with great resonance; there are three strings per note above a’.


The clavichord used here is one of the manuals from a large two-manual and pedal harpsichord, built in 2001 by Joel Speerstra and Per-Anders Terning at the Göteborg Organ Art Center workshop for the Eastman School of Music. It is a copy of an instrument from 1766 built by Johan David Gerstenberg, located at the Museum of Musical Instruments at the University of Leipzig. Manual range: CC-e’’’.


Executive producer: Roger Sherman

Producer: Hans Davidsson (tracks 7-17); Joel Speerstra (tracks 1-6)

Recording engineer, digital editor, mastering: Erik Sikkema

Tuning and maintenance fortepiano: Monika May

Tuning and maintenance clavichord: Robert Kerner

Graphic design: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

Cover art: “Haydn” by Cecilia Sibeck-Wedberg

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