For Haydn aficionados, the F Minor variations will undoubtedly need no introduction, although the piece may not be as well known to the general classical-music-loving population as it should be IMHO. It is arguably Haydn's single greatest work (although the late C Major and E-flat Major sonatas would give it a run for its money) and the greatest example of one of the composer's favorite forms, the double variation. Here the composer seems to experiment with the newer piano's expanded capabilities more fully than anywhere else, even IMO in comparison with those two sonatas (which are roughly from around the same time in ca. 1793-94). Dynamic markings are quite specific, including a plethora of crescendos and diminuendos. My favorite passage (and also the most difficult) is the passage in trills in the majore portion of variation 2. This passage, I must say, is a real bitch
I worked hard to get it even but it's still far from perfect. Several other things to note about the edition/performance:
1. At the end of variation 2 before the finale, there is in my performance a short transitional measure of 5 bars that appears in the Schott-Universal Wiener-Urtext edition but doesn't appear in many others. The critical notes indicate that it is believed these bars were mistakenly omitted from the final version because of a misplaced tempo indication. Other evidence cited is that this majore part of the double variation is two measures shorter than the parallel passage in the theme (17 vs. 19), which would make its 4 bars including the repeat roughly parallel to the 5 here. It also IMO provides a nice segue back to the theme, providing a sense of conclusion to the variations before the real finale, which ironically begins by returning to the theme.
2. I think the ending is one of the most beautiful moments in Haydn. Interestingly, at the very end are the words (at least in my edition) "Fine - Laus Deo" (The end -- praise be to God"), another sign that this may be one of the culminating accomplishments for Haydn, at least in his piano works.
3. I tried to be more careful about the inter-section breaks in this, so hopefully Rainer won't be as disappointed about that
Well anyway, not to go on too long (always seems to happen when I'm writing about one of my favorite musical works). This completes my second of three Haydn discs I've been working on, but for now this will probably be the last Haydn (whew, you're probably saying
) and last thing in general I submit for a little while as I'm start on a new, more varied program to work up.
Thanks much for listening,
JoeHaydn - Andante with Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII/6 (15:52)