Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67554

Piano Sonata in B flat major, Hob XVI:41

published by Bossler in 1784

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: 9 minutes 49 seconds


'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 boldly assertive opening Allegro of No 41 is the only movement in the three Marie Esterházy sonatas in full sonata form. Its second group of themes begins with a radical reinterpretation of the first before moving to F minor for a new, restlessly modulating theme over an Alberti-style bass. As in the finale of No 40, the development immediately dips a major third to a relatively distant key (here D flat after F)—a favourite dramatic ploy of Haydn’s in the 1780s and 1790s. Almost before we have got our bearings, the music swerves abruptly to an equally surprising E flat major for a restatement of the main theme. Haydn follows this Allegro with a movement both mercurial and tautly worked, often freely contrapuntal in texture. Its form (ABA, with the ‘A’ section playfully varied on its reprise) is akin to the finale of No 40, though here the central section, in B flat minor, begins as a free paraphrase of the opening.

It is a far cry from these delectable lightweight works composed for amateur domestic performance to the large-scale sonatas written during Haydn’s second London visit of 1794–5 for the professional pianist Therese Jansen (c1770–1843). Born in Aachen, Jansen became a star pupil of Clementi’s after her move to England. Haydn warmly admired her playing, composing for her not only the sonatas Nos 50 and 52 (possibly, too, the slighter D major, No 51) but also three of his greatest piano trios, Nos 27–29. In May 1795 he was a witness at her wedding, in St James’s Piccadilly, to the picture dealer Gaetano Bartolozzi, son of the famous engraver Francesco Bartolozzi.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

De tous les mouvements du triptyque de Marie Esterházy, l’Allegro initial, vigoureusement péremptoire, de la Sonate no 41 est le seul de forme pleinement sonate. Son second groupe de thèmes s’ouvre sur une réinterprétation radicale du premier groupe, puis passe à fa mineur pour un nouveau thème, incessamment modulant, par-dessus une pseudo-basse d’Alberti. Comme dans le finale de la Sonate no 40, le développement descend immédiatement une tierce majeure pour atteindre une tonalité relativement éloignée (en l’occurrence ré bémol après fa)—un des ressorts dramatiques préférés du Haydn des années 1780 et 1790. Mais à peine pensons-nous nous être repérés que la musique dévie brusquement vers un mi bémol majeur tout aussi surprenant pour une réénonciation du thème principal. Haydn fait suivre cet Allegro d’un mouvement qui est comme du vif-argent, ciselé avec tension et souvent de texture librement contrapuntique. Sa forme (ABA, avec la section «A» gaiement variée quand elle est reprise) s’apparente au finale de la Sonate no 40, malgré une section centrale en si bémol mineur qui commence comme une libre paraphrase de l’ouverture.

Il y a un pas immense entre ces délectables œuvres légères destinées au marché domestique amateur et les sonates à grande échelle composées par Haydn au cours de son second séjour londonien (1794–5) pour Therese Jansen (vers 1770–1843). Née à Aix-la-Chapelle, cette pianiste professionnelle s’installa à Londres, où elle devint une élève vedette de Clementi. Haydn, qui admirait vivement son jeu, composa à son intention les Sonates nos 50 et 52 (peut-être, également, la no 51 en ré majeur, plus mince), mais aussi trois de ses plus grands trios avec piano, les nos 27–29. En mai 1795, il fut témoin à son mariage, à St James’s Piccadilly, avec le marchand de tableaux Gaetano Bartolozzi, fils du fameux graveur Francesco Bartolozzi.

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

Das kühn-selbstbewusste einleitende Allegro von Nr. 41 ist der einzige Satz in den drei Marie-Esterházy-Sonaten in ausgeprägter Sonatenform. Seine zweite Themengruppe beginnt mit einer radikalen Neuinterpretation der ersten vor einer Wendung nach f-Moll für ein neues, unablässig modulierendes Thema über einem Alberti-Bass. Wie im Finale von Nr. 40 fällt die Durchführung unmittelbar um eine große Terz in eine relativ entfernte Tonart (hier von F nach D)—ein dramatischer Lieblingskniff Haydns in den 1780er und 1790er Jahren. Kaum haben wir uns wieder orientiert, wenn die Musik abrupt gleichermaßen überraschend für eine Wiederholung des Hauptthemas nach E-Dur ausweicht. Haydn lässt diesem Allegro einen lebhaften, straff verarbeiteten Satz von oft frei kontrapunktischer Struktur folgen. Seine Form (ABA, dessen „A“-Teil in seiner Reprise spielerisch variiert wird) ist der des Finales von Nr. 40 ähnlich, obwohl hier der Mittelteil in b-Moll als freie Paraphrase des Anfangs beginnt.

Diese entzückenden, für die häusliche Aufführung von Dilettanten geschriebenen leichtherzigen Werke sind weit von den großangelegten Sonaten entfernt, die Haydn während seinem zweitem Besuch in London 1794–95 für die professionelle Pianistin Therese Jansen (ca. 1770–1843) schrieb. Die in Aachen gebürtige Jansen wurde nach ihrer Ansiedlung in England eine Starschülerin Clementis. Haydn bewunderte ihr Spiel sehr und komponierte für sie nicht nur die Sonaten Nr. 50 und Nr. 52 (und womöglich auch die belanglosere D-Dur-Sonate Nr. 51), sondern auch drei seiner größten Klaviertrios, Nrn. 27–29. Im Mai 1795 war er Trauzeuge auf ihrer Hochzeit in St. James’s Piccadilly zu dem Kunsthändler Gaetano Bartolozzi, dem Sohn des berühmten Graveurs Francesco Bartolozzi.

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

Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...