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Track(s) taken from CDA67554

Piano Sonata in B minor, Hob XVI:32

published privately in 1776

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: 13 minutes 50 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)
With the sonata No 32, one of a group of six published privately in manuscript copies in 1776, we move from inspired galanterie to the vehement astringency characteristic of Haydn’s music in B minor (compare the string quartets Op 33 No 1 and Op 64 No 2). In his later works Haydn preferred a cheerful, major-mode resolution in his minor-keyed movements. Here, though, the recapitulations of the fiercely concentrated outer movements remain grimly in the minor throughout; and what had seemed brilliant or (in the first movement’s dancing triplets) even skittish in the exposition subsequently acquires a tense, anxious edge. The finale, with its obsessively pounding theme—the mainspring of virtually all the musical action—and weird, unsettling silences, is perhaps Haydn’s most violent sonata movement, culminating in a laconic coda that thunders out the theme in stark octave unison. Amid this turbulence, the dulcet, long-spanned central minuet in B major, in effect a surrogate slow movement, provides harmonic balm, with its darkly agitated B minor trio evoking the mood of the sonata as a whole.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

La Sonate no 32, qui appartient à une série de six sonates publiées à titre privé dans des copies manuscrites (1776), nous fait passer de la galanterie inspirée au caustique véhément de la musique haydnienne en si mineur (comparez les quatuors à cordes, op. 33 no 1 et op. 64 no 2). Par la suite, Haydn préférera résoudre ses mouvements en mineur sur un mode majeur enjoué. Ici, toutefois, les réexpositions des mouvements extrêmes, farouchement concentrés, ne quittent pas un instant le mode mineur; et ce qui avait semblé brillant, voire espiègle, dans l’exposition (triolets dansants du premier mouvement) se crispe, devient nerveux. Le finale, avec son thème martelant jusqu’à l’obsession—le moteur de presque toute l’action musicale—et ses silences curieux, troublants, est peut-être le mouvement de sonate le plus violent de Haydn, culminant en une laconique coda qui vocifère le thème dans un âpre unisson en octaves. Au cœur de cette turbulence, le suave et large menuet central en si majeur, en réalité un ersatz de mouvement lent, apporte un peu de baume harmonique avec son trio en si mineur sinistrement agité, qui évoque le climat de la sonate tout entière.

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

Mit der Sonate Nr. 32, die aus einer Gruppe von sechs stammt, die 1776 in handschriftlichen Kopien privat veröffentlicht wurden, kommen wir von inspirierter Galanterie zu der resoluten Strenge, die für Haydns Musik in h-Moll typisch ist (man vergleiche die Streichquartette op. 33, Nr. 1 und op. 64, Nr. 2). In seinen späteren Werken bevorzugte Haydn für seine Werke in Moll eine fröhliche Auflösung in Dur. Hier jedoch bleiben die Reprisen der streng konzentrierten Ecksätze durchweg unerbittlich in Moll; und was in der Exposition brillant oder (in den tänzelnden Triolen des ersten Satzes) sogar frivol geklungen hatte, füllt sich zusehends mit ängstlicher, nervöser Spannung. Das Finale mit seinem besessen hämmernden Thema—die Hauptquelle praktisch des gesamten musikalischen Geschehens—und bizarren, beunruhigenden Momenten des Schweigens, ist womöglich Haydns vehementester Sonatensatz, und er kulminiert in einer lakonischen Coda, in der das Thema in leeren Oktaven gedonnert wird. Inmitten dieses Tumults verbreitet das süße, langatmige Menuett in H-Dur, das effektiv als Ersatz für einen langsamen Mittelsatz dient, harmonischen Balsam, und sein düster-aufgewühltes h-Moll-Trio evoziert die Gesamtstimmung des Werkes.

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

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