One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Availability

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
The Complete Piano Sonatas
Ilse von Alpenheim (piano)
rec. 1977-1979, Rosslyn Chapel, Hampstead, North London
Available as three separate 3 CD sets
ANTAL DORÁTI EDITION IVA101-109 [9 CDs : 623:19]

It was in Haydn's Piano Concerto Hob. XVIII:11 that the Austrian pianist Ilse von Alpenheim (b.1927) made her first public appearance as soloist at the age of nine. In 1971 she married the Hungarian conductor and composer Antal Doráti (1906-1988), who recorded (with Decca) a complete cycle of Haydn's symphonies with the Philharmonia Hungarica between 1969 and 1972. He was only the second conductor to do so after the pioneering accounts by Ernst Märzendorfer and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in the 1960s. It was her husband that provided von Alpenheim with the encouragement to study the complete body of sonatas; up until that time she was only familiar with, and had performed, seven. The discovery was to change her life. Between 1977 and 1979, she set down a complete cycle as well as the concertos and concertinos. This is the first time the cycle has appeared on CD; it was first issued (in the USA only) in November 1981 on Vox LPs (SVBX 5410).

Complete cycles of Haydn's keyboard sonatas have appeared in many guises, played on harpsichords, clavichords and fortepianos. This version was recorded on a modern concert grand (Steinway). Von Alpenheim uses the Vienna Urtext, edited by Christa Landon. She observes all first movement repeats, and both repeats in the final movements, saying that the music ‘call(s) for them organically’. The sonatas were all recorded in chronological order.

I’m not familiar with Ilse von Alpenheim, and this is the first time I’ve heard her playing. I’m enamoured by the elegant and stylish approach she brings to these compelling works. There’s never a dull moment; she breathes life and freshness into the music with her imaginative insights and musical intelligence. Her deft finger work and judicious pedalling, aided by a superbly regulated instrument, fairly brightly voiced, with rounded, warm tone, and a sympathetic acoustic, ensure clarity of passagework throughout. Instinctive phrasing, dynamic variance and a total lack of exaggeration all come together to make these some of the finest Haydn piano sonata recordings I’ve ever encountered. At no time did I feel Ms von Alpenheim’s tempi less than comfortable. Ornamentation and embellishments are in style and tastefully executed, a good example being the first movement Allegretto innocente of the G major Sonata Hob.XV1/40. The Presto finale of the same sonata is sprightly and vivacious, not a mad scramble to the finishing line like some performances I’ve heard.

Although I’ve studied and played some of the later sonatas, I’m not at all conversant with the very early ones. Listening to the first three volumes, I’m struck by their invention and ingenuity. Haydn wrote them for the harpsichord, but they work extremely well on the modern piano. The product of a fertile imagination, they’re remarkably unpretentious, yet tuneful, and it’s a pity they aren’t performed and recorded more often.

Of the later sonatas, a favourite is the Piano Sonata No. 49 Hob. XV1:36 in the unusual key of C sharp minor. The first movement, with its complicated rhythms, is deftly articulated. Its serious character is assuaged by the more genial Scherzando middle movement. The Minuetto which follows is melancholic. Von Alpenheim captures the contrasting moods throughout. There’s some sparkling, diaphanous finger-work in the Allegro of the rarely heard Sonata No. 34 in D major Hob. XV1:33. After an eloquently contoured Adagio, the Tempo di Menuet is played with poise and finesse. Haydn’s sense of humour is brought out in the opening movement of the Sonata No. 50 Hob. XV1:37. The performance truly exudes that infectious wit and affability so often found in Haydn’s music. The Largo, which leads without a break into the Presto, has an improvisatory feel. All is capped off with a finale of verve and vigour. The Sonata in E flat major Hob XV1:52, Haydn’s grandest and boldest, is truly monumental in von Alpenheim’s hands. Her bold approach to the opening movement is reinforced by plenty of dramatic intent. In the Adagio she elicits warmth and expression, with the quirky finale dispatched with scintillating panache. The only disappointment is the first movement Moderato of the magnificent Sonata in C minor Sonata, Hob. XVI:20, which sounds rather tentative and doesn’t seem to flow as freely as does Alfred Brendel’s account.

The excellent, scholarly notes by Richard Freed, extend to twenty-two pages. I assume they are the original liner-notes of the LP sets. They discuss in detail Christa Landon’s pioneering work in compiling a comprehensive urtext. This makes for a fascinating read, as well as providing a chronological survey of the oeuvre.

The nine CDs are available as three 3-CD sets in flexi polypropylene (unbreakable) CD-size boxes. Each contains track-listings and timings. The booklet comes separately in a plastic envelope. I must heartily commend The Antal Doráti Centenary Society for restoring these significant recordings to circulation in outstanding transfers.

Stephen Greenbank
 
Contents
Vol. 1 [73:21]

No.1 (XVI:8) in G
No.2 (XVI:7) in C
No.3 (XVI:9) in F
No.4 (XVI:G1) in G
No.5 (XVI:11) in G
No.6 (XVI:10) in C
No.7 (XVI:D1) in D
No.8 (XVI:5) in A
No.9 (XVI:4) in D
No.10 (XVI:1) in C


Vol. 2 [74:51]

No.11 (XVI:2) in B♭
No.12 (XVI:12) in A
No.13 (XVI:6) in G
No.14 (XVI:3) in C
No.15 (XVI:13) in E
No.16 (XVI:14) in D
No.17 (Henle Ed.1, not in Hoboken) in E♭


Vol. 3 [69:47]

No.18 (Henle Ed. 2) in E♭
No.19 (Not in Hoboken) in E minor
No.20 (XVI:18) in B♭
No.29 (XVI:45) in E♭
No.30 (XVI:19) in D

Vol. 4 [61:43]

No.31 (XVI:46) in A♭
No.32 (XVI:44) in G minor
No.33 (XVI:20) in C minor
No.34 (XVI:33) in D

Vol. 5 [62:07]

No.35 (XVI:43) in A♭
No.36 (XVI:21) in C
No.37 (XVI:22) in E
No.38 (XVI:23) in F
No.39 (XVI:24) in D

Vol. 6 [68:13]

No.40 (XVI:25) in E♭
No.41 (XVI:26) in A
No.42 (XVI:27) in G
No.43 (XVI:28) in E♭
No.44 (XVI:29) in F
No.45 (XVI:30) in A

Vol. 7 [71:32]

No.46 (XVI:31) in E
No.47 (XVI:32) in B minor
No.48 (XVI:35) in C
No. 49 (XVI:36) in C♯ minor
No.50 (XVI:37) in D
No.51 (XVI:38) in E♭

Vol. 8 [70:44]

No.52 (XVI:39) in G
No.53 (XVI:45) in E minor
No.54 (XVI:40) in G
No.55 (XVI:41) in B♭
No.56 (XVI:42) in D
No.57 (XVI:47) in F

Vol. 9 [71:00]

No.58 (XVI:48) in C
No.59 (XVI:49 in E♭
No.60 (XVI:50) in C
No.61 (XVI:51) in D
No.62 (XVI:52)

 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger