WORKS: Janácek: Piano Sonata 1.X.1905; Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos 21 in C, Op. 53 & 24 in F sharp, Op. 78; Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 2 in F sharp, Op. 2
PERFORMER: Andreas Haefliger (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2173
Andreas Haefliger’s project of recording the Beethoven Sonatas within the context of other piano literature seems to be reaping fascinating results. In this latest collection, the juxtapositions are particularly effective, where two ostensibly heroic Sonatas (the Waldstein and the Brahms F sharp minor) rub shoulders with the more plaintive two-movement structures of the Janácek and the Beethoven Op. 78.
Of course, this division of character can be regarded as being somewhat simplistic, for in the JanáΩek Haefliger not only conveys the personal grief that underlines the music, but also its boldness and modernism – features which in many respects can be linked to the innovations that colour Beethoven’s middle period. Likewise, although his approach to the first and third movements of the Waldstein is suitably strong and propulsive, Haefliger imbues the slow movement with an unexpected sense of melancholy, suggesting a parallel sense of loss to that which inspired Janácek. This performance of the Waldstein is undoubtedly compelling, my only quibble being Haefliger’s apparent reluctance to adopt Beethoven’s radical pedal marks in the opening melody to the Finale.
The rest of the recital is no less illuminating. In Op. 78 the crystal-clear recording serves to emphasise the beautifully veiled and delicate timbre which Haefliger achieves in the rushing semiquaver passages that feature from time to time in both movements. But perhaps the most striking playing of all comes in the Brahms where Haefliger delivers an interpretation of formidable granitic strength that nonetheless manages to encapsulate the work’s more introspective and poetic aspects. Erik Levi