Top positive review
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lucid and energetic minor Haydn, in fine sound
on 10 September 2014
If you think of the piano concerto as a deeply expressive genre -- as it became from late Mozart on -- then Haydn's three concertos (the only three that seem undoubtedly his) can seem slight by comparison. But they're lovely pieces, with plenty of energy and surprises in the phrasing, and Leif Ove Andsnes does a fine job with them here. His touch seems calculated to create something of the effect of a fortepiano, an effect that some reviewers find unduly percussive, but you can't make a modern concert grand sound totally like its predecessor, and there's warmth and color in Andsnes's phrasing, even in the quicker passages, that makes them arresting to hear. The slow movements have gravity and even solemnity in places, without approaching the richness of Beethoven or even Mozart, and in the slow movement of the No. 11, Andsnes plays with great warmth, and he unapologetically delivers Haydn's cadenza in that movement with tonal resources beyond the fortepiano. There's plenty of charm in the outer movements, but what keeps them from being merely charming is Haydn's wit and feeling for keeping the listener somewhat off-balance. Andsnes knows how to put this over, his chamber orchestra backs him well, and the sound of both piano and orchestra is very well caught. Not the greatest music in the world, then -- not even the greatest Haydn! -- but very well done here.