Franz Josef Haydn wrote quite a few concerti for piano, which have never really enjoyed the popularity of such pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While some accuse Haydn's piano concerti of being too 'light' or having 'no meaning', I find those to be inaccurate surface impressions. I have found a great deal of enjoyment from these pieces of Haydn, and one of my favourites of his piano concerti is the seventh. Haydn's seventh piano concerto was written in the key of F Major, and is in incredibly cheerful work.
One of my favourite things to do with this piece was to play it on a CD player at work. It seems, at least for me, to go well into the background, and doesn't really require full attention to be effective. I have, of course, given it full attention, and it is superb either way; it is a piece of music to cheer a bad mood, or provide happy background sound to any environment. In the first movement, an allegro moderato, the piano starts by playing with the orchestra, which was not found in the concerti of Mozart or most other contemporaries. I find it to be a good move on Haydn's part, providing what approaches the ear as added happiness. The sound of the piano with the orchestra seems to make it seem somehow more alive and vibrant than it would with orchestra alone.
The melody is, of course, in Haydn's usual cheerful style, intended to bring entertainment and pleasant emotions. The orchestral opening has a sort of climax with a fugue, that repeats later in the movement in modified form; I always love fugues! The second movement, andante, opens with a fluid piano solo introducing the theme quietly. Then, the orchestra takes it over. Everything has a soothing feel to it, bringing relaxation to the listener. It is wonderfully calming and the orchestra comes in occasionally to supplement the piano, which is often alone. The movement is very short, soon fading into silence.
In the this movement comes the fantastic ending of the seventh piano concerto, a cheerful presto. The opening piano / orchestral introduction of the theme is one of the most cheerful examples of concerto writing I have ever heard, and the entire movement alternates between this wonderful melody and some calming moments. The orchestra is often there to emphasize the piano, until together they introduce a climax of the sort that causes one to whistle and think on those few seconds for hours. The movement quiets down for a short time while the piano plays alone, the orchestra gradually fading back in as the music builds itself back up. Now flowing harmony of the orchestra under the piano, now the slightly-modified climax again, now it repeats again, then the end; nothing drawn out or dragged on, just a simple ending that leaves the memory fresh of the body of the last movement and grand climax. I wonder that I had never heard this piece until I bought a CD of four Haydn piano concerti on the Naxos CD label.
It is wonderful, most especially the third movement, which I will listen to repeatedly. On a list of happy music with piano, this ranges up near Mozart's concerto works for that instrument, at least for me. If you want something you may not have heard before, something cheerful, something happy, you might want to give this piece a try. Haydn's neglected seventh piano concerto is a work that may bring you a great deal of pleasure; try it after a long, hard day at work and see what you think!