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Track(s) taken from CDA67554

Piano Sonata in C major, Hob XVI:50

1794/5; for Therese Jansen; No 60

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Recording details: December 2005
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2007
Total duration: 15 minutes 22 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Gottlieb Wallisch (piano)


'The ever-phenomenal Marc-André Hamelin breaks out into the light with a two-disc set of Haydn sonatas … these are astonishing performances … Hyperion's sound and presentation are, as always, immaculate' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin kicks off with the late C major Sonata, Hob XVI:50, nailing his virtuoso credentials firmly to the mast with a mercurial account of its opening movement … Hamelin's playing is dazzling … these are altogether splendid performances … these beautifully recorded performances can't be recommended too highly' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This French-Canadian pianist is equal to anything … marvels of dexterity coupled with the most refined art … the fast pieces are preturnaturally smooth, the slow ones beautifully expressive' (The Independent)

'Hamelin's coruscating virtuosity and colouristic flair can be taken for granted. But his phenomenal technique is never an end in itself. This is playing of elegance, subtlety and a subversive Haydnesque wit. Hamelin delights in the composer's penchant for wrong-footing the listener. The madcap scherzo finale of No 50, with its outrageous pauses and deflections to the most improbable keys, is deliciously timed … elsewhere, Hamelin conjures a wonderful of veiled inwardness in the adagio of No 46, and an almost Chopin-like poetry in the dreamy F minor siciliano in No 23. But Hamelin's exhilarating reading has its own validity, while the finale is dazzling in its brio and comic legerdemain. This is just the sort of Haydn playing—colourful, inventive, impish—that should win these sonatas a wider following' (The Daily Telegraph)

'For those interested in Haydn (which should include everyone who cares about music) this is a particularly valuable release … every work on this set is worthy of repeated hearings … Hamelin is a stylish and accomplished pianist. His tone is aptly lean with no untoward use of the sustaining pedal or imposition of an undue rupturing of pulse. His runs are immaculate, even in the most rapidly articulated passages, and textures are always sharply focused … a special virtue of this release is the inclusion of an essay by Richard Wigmore. Providing cogent information that touches a variety of issues impossible to glean from a single source, it stands, in effect, as a model of what insert notes should be and rarely are. Throughout both CDs the sound is ideal' (International Record Review)

Hamelin's gift for making light of complex textures and technically taxing writing is here harnessed to music of Classical clarity and economy. It is without doubt one of his finest achievements—and that's saying something. This cleverly chosen selection of diverse character is played with masterly resourcefulness. Hamelin can do deadpan humour (the finale of No 40) and brilliant note-spinning (No 32) like few others, but also finds a truly affecting wistfulness in some of the slow movements. Superbly recorded, this is a life-enhancing release' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Marc-André Hamelin joyfully tackles ten of the later sonatas on his generously presented two-for-one release from Hyperion, and one cannot but be intoxicated by such happy piano playing' (Pianist)

'Marc-André Hamelin's virtuosity is in a different league altogether. The pearly evenness of his touch, his immaculate negotiation of even the trickiest of figurations and nonchalant despatch of semiquavers at the highest velocity, indulges the physical exhilaration of Haydn's playful inspiration in a way unmatched by any pianist past or present … even Hamelin has made few discs to equal this and none finer' (International Piano)

'Hamelin begins his tour with the Sonata No 50 in C, Hob XVI:50 … the teasing opening and brusque outbursts in the opening movement are fully rendered by Hamelin, who embraces the cheeky syncopations, as well. There's something heartbreaking about Hamelin's playing in the tender Adagio to Sonata No 46 in A flat, Hob XVI:41. The single line, unsupported by any left-hand accompaniment rises and falls like a lullaby, gaining definition when Haydn finally brings in the left hand. There's more where that came from in the Adagio to Sonata No 23 in F, Hob XVI:23, which Hamelin treats as if it were a lost opera aria. Hamelin places the harmonic accents in just the right place, and he does it again and again over two discs' (Time Out Chicago)

'These superb performances—brisk, witty, emotionally evocative—reflect glory on him and Haydn alike … Hamelin is equally commanding through all of the composer's moods, skipping nimbly across the keyboard with unerring precision and then turning a slow movement into a hauntingly eloquent dramatic solo. Best of all, he gets the jokes, which he brings forward without underlining them. The result is a series of buoyant renditions' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'It is literally true that almost every new disc by Hamelin is an adventure and a revelation-in waiting. Should anyone ask why a pianist as technically daunting and so usually given to difficult and unusual repertoire (Alkan, Ornstein, Wolpe, Busoni) is now essaying two discs of piano sonatas by good old 'Papa' Haydn, all you have to do is listen to the opening C major Piano Sonata No 50 and you know you’re a long way from music intended to be pedagogic and little else. There is extravagance here of the sort Hamelin has always fed on all through this marvelous two disc set and Hamelin’s inclination toward whirlwind, occasionally almost violent prestos, Lisztian slow tempos and Bachian counterpoint brings out the bracing musical mind that so many of the greatest musicians have long insisted on beneath the classical era's Viennese paterfamilias' (The Buffalo News, USA)

'Hyperion's recording is as usual excellent with a proper focus given to the piano without making it sound overtly domineering or presumptuous. Richard Wigmore's copiously detailed notes are essential reading for the discerning Haydn scholar and thus I have nothing left to add but a wholehearted recommendation for this rather excellent double CD set which incidentally is tantalizingly offered for the price of one' (Classical.net)

'Hamelin finds in this music what so many performers of Haydn miss—the universality of utterance, the almost Shakespearean range of emotions, hiding within the classicism of Haydn's musical language' (La Folia, USA)
The first movement of the C major, No 50—probably the last of Haydn’s sonatas—is a ne plus ultra of thematic concentration, a brilliant, extrovert counterpart to the strenuous ‘Fifths’ Quartet, Op 76 No 2. It opens with a bald, staccato theme, virtually unharmonized and typically irregular in phrase structure—a vision of dry bones. Haydn immediately repeats and elaborates the theme, initially with full, rolling chords (presaging the orchestral style of much of the writing), then with hints of two-part counterpoint that will have significant consequences later. This single fertile idea reappears, contrapuntally enriched, as a ‘second subject’ (with the theme initially in the bass), and is treated with endless resource in the harmonically breathtaking development. The development’s climax comes with the famous ‘open pedal’ passage, where the once-bare theme is transformed into something rich and strange in the remote key of A flat. What Haydn seems to have envisaged here was not the sustaining pedal, as is sometimes assumed, but the una corda (i.e. soft) pedal available on the new Broadwood instruments but rarely found on contemporary Continental pianos. In the recapitulation the theme attains its lyrical apotheosis with another, more extended ‘open pedal’ passage, now ethereal rather than darkly mysterious.

After a poetically embellished, quasi-improvisatory Adagio in F—a rhapsodic meditation such as we find in many of the late piano trios—the finale is a candidate for the most subversively comic piece that even Haydn ever wrote. A scherzo in all but name, it continually baffles with its lopsided phrases (the quirky main theme consists of five plus two bars), outrageous sudden silences and disorienting feints to absurdly remote keys that, unlike Haydn’s usual practice, remain arbitrary and unexplained to the end.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

Le premier mouvement de la Sonate en ut majeur no 50—probablement la dernière sonate de Haydn—est un summum de concentration thématique, un équivalent brillant, extraverti, de l’ardu Quatuor «Les Quintes», op. 76 no 2. Il s’ouvre sur un simple thème staccato, presque non harmonisé, aux phrases typiquement irrégulières—une vision de sécheresse. Immédiatement, Haydn répète et développe ce thème, d’abord avec des accords entiers retentissants (présageant le style orchestral d’une grande partie de l’écriture), puis avec un soupçon de contrepoint à deux parties qui aura d’importantes répercussions. Cette unique idée fertile ressurgit, contrapuntiquement enrichie, sous forme de «second sujet» (avec le thème initialement à la basse), et est traitée avec une infinie ressource dans le développement harmoniquement époustouflant. L’apogée de ce dernier survient avec le fameux passage d’«open pedal», où le thème dépouillé est transformé en quelque chose de riche et d’étrange, dans la lointaine tonalité de la bémol. Haydn semble avoir envisagé ici non la pédale forte, comme on le suppose parfois, mais la pédale una corda (i.e. douce) alors disponible sur les nouveaux instruments Broadwood, mais encore rare sur les pianos du Continent. Dans la réexposition, le thème atteint son apothéose lyrique avec un autre passage d’«open pedal» plus étendu, désormais plus éthéré que sombrement mystérieux.

Passé un Adagio en fa embelli avec poésie, presque improvisé—une méditation rhapsodique récurrente dans les trios avec piano tardifs—, le finale concourt indéniablement pour le titre de pièce la plus subversivement comique jamais écrite par Haydn. Ce n’est pas un scherzo, mais c’est tout comme, et nous sommes sans cesse trompés par ses phrases déséquilibrées (le bizarre thème principal consiste en cinq mesures plus deux), ses extravagants silences soudains et ses feintes déroutantes vers des tonalités absurdement éloignées qui, à rebours de l’habituelle pratique haydnienne, demeurent arbitraires et inexpliquées, jusqu’à la fin.

extrait des notes rédigées par Richard Wigmore © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Der erste Satz der wahrscheinlich letzten Sonate Haydns—Nr. 50 in C-Dur—ist das Non plus ultra thematischer Konzentration, ein brillantes extrovertiertes Gegenstück zum angespannten Quintenquartett op. 76, Nr. 2. Er beginnt mit einem kargen Staccato-Thema, praktisch unharmonisiert und von typisch unregelmäßiger Struktur—eine Vision trockener Gebeine. Haydn wiederholt das Thema sofort und führt es weiter aus, zunächst mit vollen, wogenden Akkorden (die auf den oft orchestralen Stil der Komposition hinweisen), dann mit Andeutungen an einen zweistimmigen Kontrapunkt, der später signifikante Folgen haben soll. Diese einzelne fruchtbare Idee kehrt kontrapunktisch bereichert (mit dem Thema zunächst im Bass) als „zweites Thema“ zurück und wird in der harmonisch atemberaubenden Durchführung mit endloser Erfindungskraft verarbeitet. Der Höhepunkt der Durchführung tritt mit der berühmten „Forte-Pedal“-Passage ein, in der das einst karge Thema in etwas Eigentümliches und Üppiges in der entfernten As-Tonalität transformiert wird. Was Haydn hier zu erwarten schien war jedoch nicht das Haltepedal sondern das auf den neuen Broadwood-Instrumenten verfügbare una corda (Verschiebungs-) Pedal, das kontinentale Klaviere nur selten besaßen. In der Reprise erreicht das Thema seine lyrische Apotheose mit einer weiteren, ausgedehnteren „Forte-Pedal“-Passage, wo es jetzt eher ätherisch als dunkel-mysteriös klingt.

Nach einem poetisch ausgezierten, quasi improvisatorischen Adagio in F—eine rhapsodische Meditation wie wir sie in vielen der späten Klaviertrios finden—folgt ein Finale, das bestimmt ein guter Kandidat für das subversivste komische Stück ist, das Haydn je schrieb. Außer dem Namen nach ist es in jeder Hinsicht ein Scherzo, verblüfft durchweg mit seinen schrägen Phrasen (das schrullige Hauptthema besteht aus fünf plus zwei Takten), haarsträubenden unvermittelten Pausen und verwirrenden Feinten in absurd entfernte Tonarten, die, anders als für Haydn sonst üblich, bis zum Ende willkürlich und unerklärt bleiben.

aus dem Begleittext von Richard Wigmore © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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