LABELS: Auvidis Valois
WORKS: Sonatas Hob.XVI/21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
PERFORMER: Patrick Cohen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 4668 DDD
These sonatas (Nos. 36-41 in the Christa Landon edition) form the first volume of Cohen’s projected Haydn series, and he plays them on a modern Steinway. Nothing wrong with that, of course; the fault lies in the way he plays them. Years of painstaking research into Classical performance practice seem completely to have passed him by. He worries and niggles at the notes, staggering and lurching, rarely completing a phrase without a sudden surge forward or a self-conscious reining back. Simple progressions of quavers are distorted by a sort of manic rubato, and the music is often chopped up into fragments, with no sense of a regular pulse and tiny pauses at the most inappropriate moments. Cohen does just about everything to this music – everything, that is, except let it speak for itself.
If this is a portent of future releases in the series (and unless Cohen takes a few lessons in interpretation from Alfred Brendel, I suppose it must be), be warned. The playing itself is neat enough. It just isn’t Haydn. Wadham Sutton