on 26 January 2010
This set of 10 CDs is amazing coup for both Naxos and customers alike!
The pianism offered here commands almost every positive adjective imaginable, but primarily INTELLIGENT, SENSITIVE, BEAUTIFUL, SPONTANEOUS. Jeno Jando has made many CDs for Naxos but these are the finest, as far as I am concerned. I find it slightly sad that he is not one of those front line pianists we see in the concert halls and recital rooms of the world, for that is where he deserves to be.
I had a number of Haydn sonatas on other discs before buying this set, including some by pianists who are virtually 'household names,' but I have discarded all of them in favour of these performances. Frankly, if you have these readings, you need nothing more. Indeed, this would make a hearty recommendation even if it cost far more!
If I were to single-out one sonata as an example, it would have to be no.19 in E minor, Hob.XVI:47. The opening Adagio has all the mystery and yearning one could wish for, at a REAL Adagio tempo. Playing it as though the pianist feels Haydn meant 'Andante' kills this movement, and one witnesses this homicide all too often in live and recorded performances! Not here though, and this heart-searching movement is followed by an Allegro that canters a little like a rustic dance, in perfect contrast to the opening movement. The finale is marked, 'tempo di menuet' and again, this is exactly what Jando gives us; neither too slow so that it loses momentum, nor too fast so that dancers could not dance to it, but precisely what Haydn stipulated.
How I wish every performer paid as much attention to composers' markings as Jando! Some of these works were published without dynamics because Haydn wrote them for harpsichord where dynamic variation is not possible. In such cases, Jando's intelligence and good musical judgment comes to the rescue, ensuring that the listener never feels the want of variety.
This sort of perfection is not isolated, but permeates throughout the entire canon of finely crafted works. My only regret is that I only began exploring the Jando readings in 2010 when some of them have been around for 17 years, and I have bought other CDs of these pieces in that time!
As for recording quality, the ambience is stunningly 'life-like' with the quality microphones neither too far nor too near, producing a sense of Jando in your living room, except that the listener has the optimum, premium seat in the recital room for these renderings.
In case all this is insufficient reason to buy this set, a number of Haydn's smaller piano works are included. The gem on the crown for many (myself included) will be the Arietta con 12 varizioni in A major, Hob.XVII:2. The CDs are well filled too; just over sixty minutes is the shortest with most running longer. When you think it cannot get any better than this, you will notice the superb packaging; a sturdy box with a lid that slides gracefully over the base like a hand in a glove. Then there are no generic, flimsy paper sleeves inside to hold the CDs, but card sleeves dedicated to the CD to which it relates, giving full track listings and timings.
These delightful readings are performed on a modern piano and will please any-and-everybody, with the possible exception, ONLY of those requiring period instruments. Considering Haydn's long life, a number of different instruments would be needed to reflect the advances in keyboard instruments made during his lifetime, if any degree of authenticity were to be achieved. Even so, I would wager that anyone who becomes familiar with this set will want it on their shelves, no matter what else they may have, or desire, besides!