Piano Sonatas, Vol. 9 – No. 2 in C, Hob.XVI:7; No. 10 in C, Hob.XVI:1; No. 41 in A, Hob.XVI:26; No. 44 in F, Hob.XVI:29; No. 52 in G, Hob.XVI:39; No. 53 in E minor, Hob.XVI:34
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20131 72:15 mins
The most curious work in this latest instalment of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s ongoing Haydn cycle is the Sonata in A major H26. It’s a lopsided piece, whose grandiose opening movement is followed by two miniatures – the first of them an arrangement of the minuet from Haydn’s Symphony No. 47. It’s a jeu d’esprit in which the second half in both the minuet and the trio is the same as the first half, but played backwards. Since the transcription isn’t found in Haydn’s manuscript, it’s hard to know if it is authentic – or, indeed, if he really intended it as part of the sonata. The finale is over in a flash, and Bavouzet jokingly hesitates just before the end, suggesting that the music might easily have gone on for longer.
The more familiar Sonata in E minor H34 was first published in London in 1784. Haydn indicates repeats for both halves of its breathlessly quick opening Presto, including the substantial coda, but Bavouzet prefers to reserve the coda as a one-time conclusion, which means he has to concoct his own join from an earlier point to make the second repeat feasible. Preferable to interference on this scale would surely have been to omit the repeat altogether. It’s hard otherwise to find fault with these performances, which do full justice both to the glittering style of Haydn’s keyboard writing, and to the profundity of a piece such as the great Adagio from the Sonata H39, written for the famous Auenbrugger sisters.