HAYDN Piano Sonatas Vol 4
Christa Landon’s numbering of the sonatas to 62 in the Wiener Urtext edition is followed, though Georg Feder (The New Grove), who post-dates her, believes that only 47 can be fully authenticated – including the three early works on this disc. None contains dynamic markings, suggesting that they were written for harpsichord or clavichord. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is right in not attempting to imitate these instruments but doesn’t always seek out the full potential of the music. Whereas Tzimon Barto shapes the first movement of No 38 (HobXVI/23) to explore its harmonic tensions and uncomfortable conflicts, Bavouzet offers an effortless flow of notes. Continue into the Adagio and here there is a greater awareness of its depths, not however repeated in the opening movement of No 30 (HobXVI/19). Nonchalantly too quick for Moderato, Bavouzet minimises melodic detail and understates cutting modulations; in the succeeding Andante, played Allegretto, he subdues Haydn’s adventurous use of both clefs for concertino-ripieno effects. Yet, in another change of outlook, he senses the drama surging through No 40, which bodes well for the F minor Variations (HobXVII/6).
And Bavouzet doesn’t disappoint. He leans towards passion, hewing close to Andreas Staier; but melancholy also surfaces through rubato, embellished repeats, control of line, pace and dynamics. Most thoughtfully, Bavouzet, like Staier, incorporates bars 146-150, a coda or bridge that is so often omitted, and adds an unpublished shorter version of the work too. This is a performance of stature with not a trace of the slick superficiality that mars matters elsewhere.