ALBUM TITLE: Haydn, Mozart
WORKS: Piano Sonatas
PERFORMER: Claire-Marie Le Guay (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 476 9154
This first release in Claire-Marie Le Guay’s Mozart and Haydn series offers the opportunity to compare the composers’ approaches to the sonata design both near the start and towards the end of their respective careers. The finest of these works is surely Haydn’s grandly conceived E flat Sonata Hob 49; but Mozart’s Sonata K570, written around the same time, shows his late style at its purest and most refined. Despite a complaint from the dedicatee of Haydn’s sonata that a crossed-hands passage in its slow movement was too difficult for her, the technical demands of all the pieces here are modest – but their musical requirements are correspondingly greater, and a work such as Mozart’s K570, with its unusually spare textures, needs a good deal more shaping and shading than Le Guay provides. It’s a rather note-by-note performance, with little apparent sense of the music’s larger-scale architecture, and the beautiful slow movement plods mercilessly.
Much more successful is her nicely expressive account of the affecting G minor slow movement from Haydn’s early Sonata Hob 2. But it’s not enough to rescue the disc from sounding terribly run-of-the-mill, and the closely-balanced recording does nothing to help. Misha Donat