Haydn: Piano Sonatas Hob. XVI: 6, 34, 37, 43, 50 & 52,

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Ivory
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Hob. XVI: 6, 34, 37, 43, 50 & 52,
PERFORMER: Nadia Reisenberg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 64405-70806 (distr. Discovery) ADD
The Nadia Reisenberg discs contain studio recordings of half a dozen Haydn sonatas, four sets of variations and a couple of Capriccios, recorded between 1955 and 1958. They remind us of an elegant pianist, one whose delicacy of touch and detail of phrasing serve Haydn well. If her approach sometimes accentuates the decorative qualities of this music — one instance is the F minor Andante, Variations and Coda — far better that approach, I think, than turning Haydn into proto-Beethoven. But it’s not always a matter of pussyfooting. The outer movements of the splendid ‘English’ Sonata in C, Hob. XVL50, get the bold treatment they merit, while the slower movements have an elegantly simple surface that disguises a sophisticated poetic instinct. Recording transfers are impeccable.

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Teldec’s Rudolf Buchbinder reissues are diametrically opposite, the sound quality hard, the dynamic contrasts positively Lisztian. Yet it’s brilliant and vividly imagined playing, and one quickly acclimatises. But give me Reisenberg’s delicacy any day. Stephen Pettitt