Haydn: Keyboard Sonatas, Hob. XVI:23, 34 & 49; Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Classico
WORKS: Keyboard Sonatas, Hob. XVI:23, 34 & 49; Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6
PERFORMER: Marie Rørbech (piano)
This is an attractive programme which includes two of Haydn’s greatest keyboard works, and on the whole Marie Rørbech dispatches it with real insight and musicianship. It’s a pity she opted to begin with the E flat Sonata, Hob. XVI:49, because its opening movement is perhaps the least successful performance on the disc. It’s here that Rørbech’s occasional tendency to get bogged down in detail at the expense of the music’s natural flow is at its most damaging. In particular, she holds back the Beethovenian ‘knocking’ rhythm of the development section for expressive effect, at just the point where the music seems to need to surge ahead. There are similarly extended agogic pauses in the Allegro of the F major Sonata, Hob. XVI:23; and in view of the cadenza-like nature of the closing moments in the slow movement of this work, perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to take the second-half repeat. For the rest, though, this is an enjoyable recital, with a fine performance of the great F minor Variations, and a nicely shaped account of the E minor Sonata, Hob. XVI:34. I look forward to hearing more of Rørbech in the future. The recording is a touch bright and reverberant, but more than acceptable, nevertheless. Misha Donat