Haydn: Keyboard Sonata in B flat, Hob. XVI:2; Keyboard Sonata in A flat, Hob. XVI:46; Keyboard Sonata in F, Hob. XVI:23; Keyboard Sonata in B flat, Hob. XVI:41; Fantasy in C, Hob. XVII:4

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Keyboard Sonata in B flat, Hob. XVI:2; Keyboard Sonata in A flat, Hob. XVI:46; Keyboard Sonata in F, Hob. XVI:23; Keyboard Sonata in B flat, Hob. XVI:41; Fantasy in C, Hob. XVII:4
PERFORMER: Alain Planès (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901761
In this ‘personal selection’ of Haydn keyboard works the French pianist Alain Planès frames two of the most popular middle-period sonatas – the F major and the A flat – and the riotous C major Fantasy with two less fancied B flat works, one (Hob. XVI:2) early, the other (Hob. XVI:41) from a set of three he wrote for Princess Marie Esterházy in 1784. Hob. XVI:2, perhaps the richest of all Haydn’s early sonatas, is especially memorable for its plangent, highly ornamented G minor Largo and haunting syncopated trio in the closing minuet, while Hob. XVI:41 is typical of later Haydn in its combination of surface levity with effortless motivic and contrapuntal sophistication. Alain Planès is a refreshingly clear, unfussy Haydn interpreter, playing with firm yet supple rhythms, colouring tellingly (despite a touch of hardness created by the bright, resonant acoustic) and keeping the textures lucid. Occasionally, as in the musing Adagio of the A flat Sonata, he can be a shade literal and emphatic; and for all his virtuosity and zest, the C major Fantasy lacks the sheer comic inventiveness of Brendel or Schiff, not least in their timing of Haydn’s outrageous pauses. But with few provisos Planès is a lively and sensitive guide to these delightful works, whether in his eloquently drawn line in the Largo of the early B flat or his witty new inflections in the repeats of the A flat’s opening movement. Richard Wigmore

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