Having thoroughly enjoyed the first four instalments
of Bavouzet’s projected cycle of the Haydn piano sonatas (see
reviews of Volume
), I was overjoyed when this CD arrived for review. As each volume
appears, Bavouzet goes from strength to strength. Listening to the earlier
volumes, I was so impressed, it spurred me on to resurrect and mug up
on some of the sonatas I’d learned many years ago.
Haydn composed his piano sonatas between 1750 and 1795 and, for reasons
unknown, avoided the genre for the remaining fourteen years of his life.
His influences were the harpsichord style of Georg Christoph Wagenseil
(1715-1777) in the early works up until 1760. C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788)
was a later voice and the development of the Broadwood pianos Haydn
came across in London in the 1780s also had its impact. Together with
his symphonies and string quartets, we can see in the piano sonata oeuvre,
Haydn’s contribution to the evolution of sonata form.
On this CD, Bavouzet offers us a selection of earlier and later sonatas.
As in the previous volumes, one gets the immediate impression that he
clearly loves these works and plays them with great commitment. They
are marked out with stylish phrasing and crisp and incisive playing.
Repeats are ornamented and all embellishments are in style, tastefully
done and with great attention to detail. Some may find his tempi rather
brisk, but I find they work and are well judged. What I like with these
sonatas is the infectious wit, the vigour, the joie de vivre
and the pervasive element of surprise.
Although Haydn’s piano sonatas have never had the enduring popularity
and exposure to the concert-going public as those of Mozart and Beethoven
there are, nevertheless, some excellent Haydn sonata recordings out
there. I first got to know these works with the ‘ground-breaking’
survey of John McCabe issued on Decca (443785). This was followed by
a selection of eleven sonatas and shorter pieces recorded by Alfred
Brendel (Philips 416 643) on four CDs. Schiff, Hamelin, Jandó
and Buchbinder have also made valuable contributions to the discography.
The Potton Hall acoustic lends a bright, sonorous ambience to the proceedings.
Documentation is spot-on, setting the works in a historical context.
Bavouzet contributes his own enlightening thoughts.
Chandos offer a Haydn series marked by great distinction. I hope that
the next volume will not be too long delayed.