This compact sinfonia is an early example of a true chamber sinfonia: that is, an offshoot of the Italian-style operatic overture intended from the start to be a free-standing composition for use in either public or private concerts. Wolff chooses the usual Fast–Slow–Fast format, adopting the sonata form and style pioneered by Italian composers but developed more fully in Germany during the central decades of the eighteenth century. Full of striking and effective contrasts of dynamics, mood and thematic content, the work anticipates in places the Sturm und Drang of middle-period Haydn and the finely sculpted melodic lines of C. P. E. Bach.
“Talbot refers to the ‘drama’ of this music (Introduction, p. vi), and I would agree that there is an appealing dynamism about the writing: he often uses rhythmic unison and syncopation to dramatic effect. Wolff is inventive in his use of rhythm, texture, and his idiomatic treatment of the instruments. In this comparatively brief work, textural clarity and simplicity are combined with a mastery of thematic and structural concepts that propel the music forward, while also giving coherence to the whole. This can be seen in the development section of the opening Allegro, where, in the course of some fifty bars, Wolff includes textural and dynamic sleight of hand, combined with an easy playfulness.”