Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5

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COMPOSERS: Joseph Haydn
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Nos 12, 15, 37, 54, 55 & 56; Epilogue
PERFORMER: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)


Even Haydn specialists tend to neglect Haydn’s earliest keyboard sonatas, which can look simplistic on the page and are by no means all of proven authenticity. Marc Vignal, the booklet-note writer of the present series, considers that the Sonata No. 12, dating from the 1750s, may be only partly by Haydn. Yet, by deft and varied articulation in both Nos 12 and 15 from circa 1760, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet contrives to fill these novice pieces with character and interest. He finds the chromatic Trio from the Minuet of No. 12 so prescient that he repeats it more slowly, as a hazy and haunting Epilogue to the whole CD.

The publication of the Sonata No. 37 in E major (1773) was overseen by Haydn himself. Bavouzet acknowledges the fact that, at that time, the work was still more likely to be played on the harpsichord than the fortepiano, by maintaining a crisp touch, but managing all the same to impart tenderness to the wandering line of the Andante, and charm to the minuet-variations finale. Haydn published his three, better-known two-movement Sonatas – Nos 54, 55 and 56 – in 1785, specifically for piano. In these, Bavouzet is as alive to the gentle hesitations of the Andante con espressione first movement of No. 56 as he is to the madcap frolics of the finale of No. 54. It’s lively and nuanced pianism in translucent recorded sound.


Bayan Northcott