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Track(s) taken from CDA67554

Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI:52

1794/5; written for Therese Jansen; No 62

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: 20 minutes 1 seconds

Other recordings available for download

John Lill (piano)
Gottlieb Wallisch (piano)
Angela Hewitt (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)
Remote tonal relationships are a prime feature of the noble, almost symphonic E flat Sonata, No 52, Haydn’s grandest and most spacious work for the piano. Here, though, they are integrated into a boldly comprehensive design. Haydn sets the slow movement in the far-flung ‘Neapolitan’ key of E major. But he is careful to flag this audacious move during the massive opening Allegro moderato, a movement as rich in diverse ideas as the C major’s was economical. At the heart of the development the music pauses rhetorically on a deep, full chord of G major, leading the ear to expect a resolution to C minor. But Haydn has other ideas; and with an effect at once startling, witty and poetic, the flippant second theme prances in in the quite alien key of E major. Having conjured this luminous, strangely unreal vision, Haydn then spirits the music back to the home key E flat and the recapitulation via a wonderful gliding chromatic sequence. There is another, more fleeting presentiment of the key of the Adagio near the end of the movement. Here a phrase in soft, bare octaves from the exposition is chromatically expanded, creating a mysterious phrase replete with double flats that could be rewritten enharmonically in E major.

Like the slow movement of No 50, the Adagio suggests a fantasia in its rhapsodic, richly ornamented style. But it is a more varied, far-reaching piece, more sonorously scored and more audacious in its harmony—as when the tonality veers dramatically towards a remote C major in the second half of the theme. A central episode in E minor develops the theme’s initial dotted phrase in music by turns stark and airily whimsical. Haydn has another tonal surprise up his sleeve at the start of the finale. After the E major Adagio, the unharmonized repeated Gs lead the ear to expect E minor; and when a sustained bass note in bar two establishes the key of E flat, we experience a sense of pleasurable shock. The whole movement is the consummation of Haydn’s Scarlatti-influenced toccata style, developing its irrepressible main theme with dazzling verve and chromatic sleight-of-hand: a coruscating ending to a work that, if not quite his last sonata, gloriously crowns a genre that Haydn, more than anyone, had raised from lightweight, divertimento origins to a status comparable with the exalted symphony and the string quartet.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

Les relations tonales éloignées sont une caractéristique essentielle de la majestueuse et quasi symphonique Sonate en mi bémol no 52, la plus grandiose et la plus spacieuse de toutes les œuvres pour piano de Haydn, même si, ici, ces relations sont intégrées dans un schéma audacieusement complet. Le compositeur attribue au mouvement lent la lointaine tonalité «napolitaine» de mi majeur, un élan d’audace qu’il prend soin de débiliter dans un massif Allegro moderato initial aussi riche en idées que celui en ut majeur était parcimonieux. Au cœur du développement, la musique se pose rhétoriquement sur un accord complet, profond, de sol majeur, qui laisse présager une résolution sur ut mineur. Mais Haydn a d’autres idées en tête et c’est avec un effet à la fois saisissant, spirituel et poétique que le désinvolte second thème caracole dans la tonalité, des plus étrangères, de mi majeur. Après avoir convoqué cette vision lumineuse, curieusement irréelle, Haydn ramène subrepticement la musique à la tonalité principale de mi bémol et à la réexposition via une séquence chromatique merveilleusement furtive. Un autre pressentiment, plus fugace encore, de la tonalité de l’Adagio se fait entendre vers la fin du mouvement. Une phrase en douces octaves dépouillées, tirée de l’exposition, est chromatiquement développée jusqu’à devenir cette phrase mystérieuse et gorgée de doubles bémols que l’on pourrait réécrire enharmoniquement en mi majeur.

Comme le mouvement lent de la Sonate no 50, l’Adagio, par son style rhapsodique richement orné, suggère une fantaisie. Il s’agit, cependant, d’une pièce considérable, plus variée, à l’écriture plus sonore, à l’harmonie plus audacieuse—comme lorsque la tonalité vire dramatiquement vers un ut majeur reculé, dans la seconde moitié du thème. Un épisode central en mi mineur développe la phrase pointée initiale du thème en une musique tour à tour austère et désinvoltement fantasque. Haydn nous réserve une autre surprise tonale, au début du finale. Après l’Adagio en mi majeur, les sol répétés, non harmonisés, font que l’oreille s’attend à mi mineur; et quand une note de basse tenue, à la mesure deux, instaure la tonalité de mi bémol, nous ressentons un agréable choc. Ce mouvement, qui marque l’apogée du style de toccata haydnien d’influence scarlattienne, développe son irrésistible thème principal avec une verve étincelante et une dextérité chromatique: une coruscante conclusion pour une œuvre qui, si elle n’est pas tout à fait la dernière sonate de Haydn, couronne glorieusement un genre que ce compositeur a fait, plus que quiconque, passer du rang de divertimento léger à celui d’œuvres comme la symphonie de haut vol et le quatuor à cordes.

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

Entfernte Tonartenverwandtschaften zeichnen die noble, nahezu symphonische Es-Dur-Sonate Nr. 52 aus, Haydns grandiosestes und großzügigstes Werk für Klavier. Hier werden sie jedoch in einer kühn übergreifenden Anlage integriert. Haydn setzt den langsamen Satz in der entlegenen „neapolitanischen“ Tonart E-Dur. Er bereitet diesen wagemutigen Schritt aber im einleitenden, massiven Allegro moderato sorgfältig vor, das so reich an verschiedenen Ideen ist wie die C-Dur-Sonate ökonomisch war. Im Herzen der Durchführung hält die Musik rhetorisch auf einem tiefen, vollen G-Dur-Akkord ein, nach dem das Ohr eine Auflösung nach c-Moll erwartet. Aber Haydn hat andere Ideen, und mit gleichermaßen überraschender, origineller und poetischer Wirkung stolziert das frivole zweite Thema in der ganz fremden Tonart E-Dur herein. Nachdem Haydn diese leuchtende, seltsam unwirkliche Vision heraufbeschwört, zaubert er die Musik mit Hilfe einer wunderbaren chromatisch gleitenden Sequenz wieder in die Grundtonart Es-Dur und die Reprise zurück. Gegen Ende des Satzes findet sich eine weitere flüchtige Andeutung der Tonart des Adagios. Hier wird eine Phrase aus der Exposition in leisen, leeren Oktaven chromatisch erweitert, was eine mysteriöse Phrase voller Doppel-bs kreiert, die enharmonisch in E-Dur notiert werden könnte.

Dieses Adagio klingt, wie auch der langsame Satz in Nr. 50, mit seinem rhapsodischen, reich verzierten Stil an eine Fantasie an. Aber dies ist ein vielfältigeres, weitreichenderes Stück mit größerer Klangfülle und waghalsigerer Harmonik—wie wenn die Tonalität in der zweiten Hälfte des Themas dramatisch in Richtung C-Dur steuert. Eine zentrale Episode in e-Moll verarbeitet die einleitende punktierte Phrase in abwechselnd kahler und sorglos-launischer Musik. Am Anfang des Finales schüttelt Haydn noch eine weitere tonale Überraschung aus dem Ärmel. Nach dem E-Dur-Adagio lassen die nicht harmonisierten repetierten Gs das Ohr e-Moll erwarten, und wenn eine angehaltene Bassnote im zweiten Takt die Tonart Es-Dur etabliert, fühlen wir einen Wonneschauer. Der Satz als Ganzes ist der Gipfelpunkt in Haydns von Scarlatti beeinflusstem Toccatenstil und entwickelt sein unwiderstehliches Hauptthema mit blendendem Elan und chromatischer Fingerfertigkeit: ein funkelnder Beschluss für ein Werk, das, wenn es auch nicht seine allerletzte Sonate ist, ein Genre krönt, das Haydn mehr als jeder andere von seinem leichtherzigen Divertimento-Ursprung zu einem Status erhob, der sich mit dem der Erhabenheit von Symphonie und Streichquartett vergleichen lässt.

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

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