Haydn: Piano Sonatas

Haydn: Piano Sonatas

by Marc-André HamelinMarc-André Hamelin


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Québec pianist Marc-André Hamelin has emerged as a major star of the keyboard in recent years, but this brilliant double-disc set of Haydn keyboard sonatas -- a representative 10 out of some 60 the composer wrote -- was still hard to see coming. It may well become the definitive single-release choice for Haydn's sonatas, which are too often cherry-picked by the comparatively few big-name pianists who often include them on recordings and recitals. The temptation is to turn to the large-scale pieces Haydn wrote toward the end of his career, rather Beethovenian works that influenced the young king of the piano sonata profoundly. The "Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. 16/52," especially, sounds fine if a pianist stretches out a bit on a modern grand while rendering it. That work and the more capricious but equally large-scale "Piano Sonata in C major, Hob. 16/50," are included on Hamelin's program, and the interpretations are masterly. If you are listening on headphones in a public place, your companions are going to wonder what you are laughing about when you get to the finale of the C major sonata (track 3), a madcap piece of Haydn humor in which Hamelin finds absolute delight. But the real revelation in Hamelin's performance lies in the connections he finds between these late works and those from earlier in Haydn's career. There is a freshness and discovery in his readings that brings every work alive. The two-movement "Piano Sonata in G major, Hob. 16/40," has often seemed a rather inconsequential work, but Hamelin finds a Romantic sense of childhood in it. The "Piano Sonata in B minor, Hob/ 16/32," from the year 1776, is a rather chilly little piece with a minuet for a central movement; the trio is an incursion of implacable B minor spirit into the graceful minuet. Hamelin catches every detail of this extraordinary work: the deferral of the Sturm und Drang passions until the major-key second subject, the startlingly disjointed opening theme of the finale, the sharp nervousness of the whole. Every other sonata is as carefully thought out, brilliantly executed, and thoroughly enjoyed by the performer. Add in conservative sound engineering of the best sort from Hyperion and you have the all ingredients for a major recording event.

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Product Details

Release Date: 04/10/2007
Label: Hyperion
UPC: 0034571175546
catalogNumber: 67554
Rank: 56990


  1. Keyboard Sonata in C major, H. 16/50
  2. Keyboard Sonata in G major, H. 16/40
  3. Keyboard Sonata in A flat major, H. 16/46
  4. Keyboard Sonata in B flat major, H. 16/41
  5. Keyboard Sonata in E flat major, H. 16/52
  6. Keyboard Sonata in F major, H. 16/23
  7. Keyboard Sonata in A flat major, H. 16/43
  8. Keyboard Sonata in D major, H. 16/24
  9. Keyboard Sonata in B minor, H. 16/32
  10. Keyboard Sonata in D major, H. 16/37

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