HAYDN: KEYBOARD SONATAS - ANDSNES, LEIF OVE
This disc offers delectable performances of five shrewdly contrasted works: two troubled, trenchant minor-key sonatas from the 1770s juxtaposed with a pair of lightweight pieces from the same period and culminating in the great E flat Sonata.
Andsnes is responsive to the individual character of these sonatas, to their richness and variety of incident, and their sheer unpredictablility. With his wide spectrum of colour and dynamics he makes no apologies for using a modern Steinway. But his playing, founded on a pellucid cantabile touch and diamantine passagework, marries classical refinement and clarity with a spontaneous exuberance, a sense that the next phrase is yet to be created. Andsnes is always ready to add stylish and witty touches of embellishment to the repeats. The opening movements of both minorkey sonatas have a lithe, sinewy urgency, above all in the vehement sequences of their developments, together with a rare delicacy of nuance: and here, as elsewhere, you notice how alive and concentrated is his piano and pianissimo playing. Andsnes brings a bright, buoyant yet lyrical approach to the E flat Sonata's outer movements, to the wonderful Adagio a limpid line, a subtly flexed pulse and, in the B flat minor central episode, a true sense of passion. This is just the sort of playing – joyous, imaginative, involving – to win Haydn's sonatas a wider following. The recording of the E flat, made in a church in Oslo, has slightly more ambient warmth than that of the remaining sonatas, recorded at EMI's Abbey Road studios. But throughout, the piano sound is natural and present without being too closely miked.
Haydn - Piano Sonatas
Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 41 in A major, Hob.XVI:26
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 47 in B minor, Hob.XVI:32
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 49 in C sharp minor, Hob.XVI:36
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 50 in D major, Hob.XVI:37
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 59 in E flat major, Hob.XVI:49