Bart Van Oort, Ursula Dutschler, Stanley Hoogland, Yoshiko Kojima & Riko Fukuda (piano)
CD - 10 discs
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It is only comparatively recently that Haydn’s piano sonatas started to feature in recitals, and some of the major pianists of our time have added some of them to their repertoire – Alfred Brendel being perhaps the most illustrious champion of this neglected area of Haydn’s output.
Even with this re-awakening of interest, out of the 60 works concerned, only a handful appear in recital. To compare them with Mozart’s sonatas is as unfair as the often comparison of Schubert’s sonatas with those of Beethoven. Mozart’s sonatas display the cantible of the operatic aria or lied, and have a distinctly ‘south of the Alps’feel to them.
Haydn’s influences come from further north in Berlin and Hamburg. CPE Bach’s sonata’s appeared during the 1740s, and the last appeared in 1787, and the influence of these works was as profound on the young Beethoven as it was on the older Haydn. The first 15 Haydn sonatas date from around 1760, and were probably intended as teaching pieces. Nos.16-19 and 28 belong to a transitional period, Nos.21-27 are sadly lost, and No. 20 and Nos29-62 representing the differing phases of Haydn’s maturity. Of these Nos.48-52 date from 1777-9, and the last three sonatas, Nos 60-62 were composed in London during Haydn’s second UK visit in 1794-5.
All the hallmarks of Haydn can be found in the sonatas, dramatic contrasts between light and dark shadings, sudden pauses and switching between piano and forte – sometimes for drama, often for humour – all foreshadow his unruly and headstrong pupil Ludwig van Beethoven.
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