When studying an integral work of the characteristics of the Haydn sonatas, we might find difficult to differentiate the cultural from the particular.
Haydn was extremely prolific and that comes at a price. We can often find even literal iterations through his sonatas, sometimes involving entire movements; and that leaving behind the upgrades he practised to some of his pieces, turning them from solo works into duos and trios.
We can also find a wide use of “common places” -trendy and popular musical designs-. The fabulous challenge is to try and find Haydn, I mean, the real personality behind the fashionable writing. Of course in Haydn’s case, his presence is particularly noticeable “form-wise”, though also harmonically.
For instance, let’s take the example of Hob. XVI:3; this small divertimento is the perfect example of a trendy piece. The use of repetition is almost abusive, but if we check the writing carefully we will easily find out that this iteration is compensated by a masterly use of harmonic progressions, modulations and form.
From our performers point of view, finding the purpose of each passage should remain our main concern. The direction of each passage conditions the dynamics we choose and therefore our personal final version of the piece.
In the next collection of articles about Haydn sonatas -catching up from the Hob. XVI:3- I will emphasise the importance of keeping a clear perspective on dynamics and how these ones integrate with other two musical layers: harmony and form.
In a piece like the first movement of Hob. XVI:3 it is our duty to make the most of the meta-instructions embedded in the writing. For instance, the left hand is “shaped” by emphasising the first quaver of each triplet and decreasing the intensity of every next note afterwards within each bar. At the same time the balance between left and right hands will determine the range of effective dynamics we will produce.
Keep an eye on our next articles to come…