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Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 11 (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Haydn
Piano Sonatas, Vol. 11: No. 1 in G; No. 9 in D; No. 14 in C; No. 61 in D; No. 62 in E flat; Fantasia (Capriccio) in C, Hob. XVII:4; Adagio in F, Hob.XVII:9; Capriccio in G, Hob.XVII:1; Theme and Variations in C, Hob.XVII:5; Allegretto in G, Hob.XVII:10
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20193   80:12 mins

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Jean-Efflam Bavouzet tells us that he always planned this final disc of his justly-praised complete Haydn piano sonata project to open and close with the very first and last sonatas. Granted the authenticity of the tiny, divertimento-like No. 1 in G major is not absolutely certain, but the playful asymmetries of its first movement already epitomise Haydn. And Bavouzet brings the same precision and vivacity to it as he finds in the grand gestures and astonishingly varied textures of the culminating Sonata No. 62 in E flat major, composed in London some 30 years later. Yet he is equally convincing in the almost Schubertian spaciousness of the opening movement of the Sonata No. 61 in D major, and the wickedly displaced accents of its finale.

The items between the sonatas are scarcely less rewarding. The Capriccio in C major, in which dancing and hunting motifs are whirled through a maze of remote keys, is well-known and wittily delivered here. But a real discovery in the very early Capriccio in G major, in which a tiny folksong idea takes off into an unpredictable, unstoppable play of invention for some 368 bars. And the E flat Sonata proves not quite the last word. By way of envoi, Bavouzet adds the Allegro in G major which Haydn wrote for a musical clock. At the end of a disc in which a slight dryness of recorded sound is the only qualification, the pedal resonance with which Bavouzet envelops this delectable piece comes as an enchanting farewell.

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Bayan Northcott