Haydn: Keyboard Sonatas Hob. XVI:34, 40-42, 47 & 48

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Keyboard Sonatas Hob. XVI:34, 40-42, 47 & 48
PERFORMER: Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-993
For the second instalment of his Haydn sonata cycle, Ronald Brautigam alights on six works composed during the 1780s. Most familiar are the G major, Hob. XVI:40, capped by one of Haydn’s most hilarious, quixotic finales, and the C major, Hob. XVI:48, with its grandly florid double variations and quasi-symphonic final rondo. But the others, if less consistently inspired, all contain memorable music: the driving, obsessively argued opening movement of the E minor, Hob. XVI:34, for instance; the finale of Hob. XVI:42 in D, which works characteristic miracles with a couple of laconic motifs; or the doleful F minor siciliano of Hob. XVI:47, adapted from an earlier sonata in E.

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Playing on a fine, clear-toned reproduction Walter fortepiano, Brautigam again proves himself a sympathetic and involving Haydn interpreter, responsive alike to the music’s lyricism, drama and sheer cosmic energy. He brings an apt leisurely expansiveness to the opening Allegro of Hob. XVI:41, with poetic touches of timing, and underlines the wayward, improvisatory flavour of the variations that open Hob. XVI:42. Occasionally, as in the finale of Hob. XVI:41, Brautigam’s playing can be a bit snatched and hectic; and he surely misses several tricks by invariably leaving Haydn’s pauses unadorned. But this disc, vividly, if a shade over-resonantly recorded, should win many converts to some delightful and still undervalued music. Richard Wigmore