HAYDN Complete Piano Sonatas – Brendel
Last December, when writing about the fourth of these recordings, I suggested they were to be counted among the best Alfred Brendel has given us in the last five years. Listening to all four on CD has been a treat. The presentation of the collection is good too, if your eyesight is up to the demands a CD booklet imposes, and Monika Mollering's essay ( ''Images of Haydn'') and notes on the individual sonatas and pieces are a stimulus to enhanced enjoyment of the remarkable qualities of the music. It takes a great player to do justice to its variety, its richness of expression, its wit and its sophistication of form and structure, as Mollering says. Brendel's steady illumination of Haydn is a delight. He is at once a scrupulous and a robust interpreter, setting out from a careful reading of the text to seek the most vivid projection of Haydn's ideas—and I admire especially the way he allows boldness, even daring, to play a part in the search. The playing is alive with a feeling of spontaneity and the capricious side of Haydn is served as generously as the rest of him. ''The perceptiveness and musicality of his playing may well be a revelation even to those who know that Haydn's keyboard sonatas, still shamefully neglected, are every bit as good as Mozart's'', was a comment of RG's about the third disc (11/83). On the second (8/85), RF thought Brendel revealed the E minor as ''one of Haydn's very greatest sonatas''. And about the last sonata, the E flat, on the most recent issue (12/86), I said I could imagine Beethoven relishing this performance of it. In sum, marvellous music, its marvels made brilliantly manifest.
And the recording? Well, variable and not without its faults. In a