About this work
While Symphony No. 28 in A finds the young Haydn thriving and creating with assured ease under the patronage of Esterházy, a passing cloud came from a contemporary Leipzig critic who expressed distaste for the work. In particular, the minuet was singled out, probably for its raucous unison string effect, yet nothing was said of the unusually nervous opening movement nor the unusual length of the slow movement.
Symphony No. 28 commences with an allegro the nature of which would seem more at home as a finale, in scampering rapid triple time, and based around a motif rhythmically (not spiritually) similar to Beethoven's "fate" motif from his C minor Symphony. Some of the most intriguing harmonic pivots appear not in the development but in the recapitulation. The much-expanded adagio (half the length of the entire symphony) is leisurely and contemplative, featuring a dialog between divided strings; its tick-tock rhythm is prophetic of the corresponding movement of No. 101 ("The Clock"). The minuet is lusty in its use of bariolage (simultaneous pitch duplication on two strings); in this there is a rollicking feel which looks ahead to Schubert's bucolic scherzi, as well as the trio's minor-key brooding which is uncannily premonitory of the later composer; could the master of Lied have known this Haydn work? The slight finale, while not particularly unusual, is marked by typically bustling energy in 6/8 time. Yet for all its convention this movement likewise drew ire from the Leipzig critic's pen.