Hyperion’s Record of the Month for March—a generous two-for-the-price-of-one set—pits enthusiastic composer and master pianist Marc-André Hamelin against enthusiastic pianist and master composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
Epitomizing the evolution of the Classical sonata, Haydn’s iconic contributions to the genre, some sixty in total, have in some respects become victims of their own perfection, ignored by all but a handful of today’s leading pianists and relegated to the classroom. But in the hands of Maestro Hamelin these crystalline marvels are released from such transient shackles—to wondrous effect.
The programme is varied: a tour through Haydn’s ‘experimental’ and ‘popularist’ styles culminates with two of the acknowledged ‘great’ sonatas, Nos 50 and 52. And how suited this all is to the performer: Hamelin’s devotion to virtuosic innovation—as reflected in his astonishing discography—is so firmly rooted in his passion for a sense of pianistic genealogy that these seminal works seem entirely in keeping with his more pyrotechnical reputation.