The Haydn Piano Sonatas
Scott Foglesong, piano

Sonata in A Major HXVI:5

This is another very early sonata of somewhat doubtful authenticity. Part of the doubt in this case comes, it would seem, from the distinctly awkward nature of both first and last movements. However, if this is a work of the early 1750s, then some awkwardness can certainly be expected given the relative youth and inexperience of its composer. The sonata is no better or no worse than most of the pre-Classical keyboard works of the day, and has a distinct energy to it that would seem to support Haydn as the composer.

First Movement: Allegro

The first movement is in a sonata form highly typical of Haydn's early works, and typical of the 1750s in general. The secondary theme is in the dominant minor key, rather than the major, and is followed by a second theme which is in the dominant major. The movement shows some very early signs of Haydn's later motivic mastery: a three-eighth-note figure is heard in almost every measure of the movement, although not much is made of it.

Second Movement: Menuet - Trio

The movement presents a sweet, simple Galant-style Menuet with few surprises. The Minuet and Trio each are in an unbalanced three-part song form (i.e., ABC rather than ABA), in which the third section contains a single two-measure phrase extension (a repeat of the first two measures of the phrase). The trio is in the parallel minor key, a common practice for the time.

Third Movement: Presto

While this movement would hardly win any awards for originality, it has its charms. Irregular phrase lengths are scattered throughout its length, giving it a slight quirkiness that goes far to make up for its humdrum materials and repetitiveness. Many of Haydn's early final movements are Presto in 3/8 meter, like this one, but many of them are binary -- unlike this one which is in sonata form. Like the first movement, this finale offers a secondary theme in the dominant minor, and an alternate secondary theme in the dominant major.