This is a collection of six of Haydn’s keyboard sonatas (played on piano) ostensibly written between 1773 and 1779. (However, there appears to be some debate as to when they were authored.) The sonatas are Nos. 39, 40, 41, 48, 49 and 51, which seems an arbitrary selection. However, the alternative cataloguing of Haydn’s works (really, the standard catalogue) suggests that all but 49 were composed during two particular moments, so maybe that’s why. (Okay, I’ll stop.)
The 39th is a gorgeous piece of music. Very, very Classical, but still interesting enough (and clearly difficult) that it isn’t just a simple melody.
The 40th is really wacky and out there, for it’s time anyway. I love this kind of thing where it skirts along, threatening to break rules but never quite breaking them. In the showy parts you almost, almost lose the melody. Really great.
The 41st starts off sounding really traditional but there are still lots of moments for the player to show off. This one is pretty playful actually. I like it.
The 48th is very jaunty in the style you would really associate with this era. However, again Haydn shows that he’s not just any old composer. He varies the left hand from phrase to phrase, and that’s before the piece really takes off about a minute in. Good stuff.
The 49th is rather dark compared to the others in this collection, but that’s because of the key, obviously. It’s still not Romantic dark, but it’s borderline (which reminds me of a number of his late symphonies). It might be my least favourite of the group, though. Just a little too straightforward.
The 51st appears to be the most famous here as it is the only one with a wikipedia entry. It constantly shifts tempos and seems to jump all over the place. Though a couple parts are hummable most of it shows off the player’s ability. You often think it’s about to head to cliche/convention, but then it does not. I can see why it’s famous.
I guess the collection is a little bit arbitrary but it’s tough to curate these down to a single disc anyway, as there are 60 ish of these. The music that is here is fantastic and once again Haydn forces me to rethink Classical.