28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The Joy of Music,
This review is from: Haydn - Piano Sonatas - Marc-André Hamelin (Audio CD)
In my mother's and then later my wife's collection of cookbooks was one called 'The Joy of Cooking.' I can think of no better epithet for this two-CDs-for-the-price-of-one collection of Haydn piano sonatas than 'The Joy of Music.' We know that Haydn was one of the most joyful composers and certainly that adjective applies to his 60 or so piano sonatas (of which there are ten presented here) and there is absolutely no pianist before the public today who conveys the joy of music-making more than Marc-André Hamelin. Even though I would never have dreamed he would bring out a Haydn sonata collection -- one associates him with less-well-known music, usually of the super-virtuoso sort -- I am thrilled that he did. (And come to think of it, Haydn's sonatas aren't as well known as they deserve to be.) Let me say that this set eclipses any other Haydn sonata recordings I know. It's that simple. There is a such superhuman clarity, such grace, such stylish phrasing, pearly runs, precise figurations, such technical aplomb and such high spirits as to allow me no other conclusion.
The contents of the two CDs are representative of Haydn's entire sonata output, with a couple of the masterful late sonatas -- Nos. 50 in C and 52 in E flat -- cheek by jowl with some of the earlier, less experimental ones, such as No. 23 in F.
It's a wonder to me that Haydn sonatas are not more often played or recorded. Perhaps, like the piano trios, it's because there are so many of them. But if you compare the number of recordings and performances of Mozart sonatas with these gems the disparity is astonishing. I find that I turn to the Haydn sonatas in my own listening more often than I do the Mozarts, although I love both sets of sonatas immoderately. And now that we have this group of sonatas played by Hamelin I suspect I'll be doing so even more often; in fact, there has been no other music in my car CD player for the past two weeks. Is it too much to hope that perhaps there will be more Hamelin recordings of Haydn? One can only wish.
It's a lovely gesture, by the way, that Hyperion has chosen to issue this set of two CDs for the price of one. Thank you, Hyperion! And thank you as well for including the enlightening and exhaustive essay on the sonatas by Richard Wigmore.
Very enthusiastically recommended.