Friday 16 August 2013

Vladimir Feltsman brings all his musicality, experience and wisdom to Haydn’s keyboard sonatas on a new release from Nimbus

Unlike Mozart and Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)  is not remembered for writing piano sonatas yet he wrote over sixty keyboard sonatas. His works for keyboard span almost his entire compositional life.

A new release from Nimbus  featuring that fine pianist, Vladimir Feltsman , has eight of Haydn’s keyboard sonatas dating from around 1771 to 1790. Whilst Haydn’s earlier keyboard works were intended for the harpsichord it is recorded that Haydn was playing a fortepiano as early as 1773.

NI 6242

Vladimir Feltsman opens the first of the discs on this 2 CD set with Haydn’s Sonata in A flat H.XVI:46 (c.1767). The Allegro moderato is crisp and nicely pointed with an almost Mozartian forward flow and some lovely thoughtful touches. Haydn’s beautiful Adagio is played with a lovely free, improvisatory feel by with superb care and sensitivity, building to a fuller, more dramatic section part way through. The Finale: Presto gives a fine example of Feltsman’s apparently easy virtuosity with a sparkling rondo based on the material from the first movement, superbly played.

In the Presto of the Sonata in E minor H.XVI:34 (c.1778) there is some lovely playing in the offset rhythm of the opening. The music broadens beautifully as it develops with some lovely harmonic modulations. Haydn again seems to echo Mozart in the elaborate adagio, full of ornamentation and flowing over the keyboard. The Vivace molto ‘innocentemente’ is played with an appropriate directness and playfulness in one of Haydn’s most memorable tunes.

Feltsman brings a fullness and drama to the allegro of Haydn’s Sonata in E flat major H.XVI:49 (c.1790) that contrasts so much with the vivace molto of the preceding sonata on this disc. There are passages that remind one of Beethoven particularly a series of repeated notes, then again Mozart appears, reminding one of the later stages of that composer’s C minor Piano Concerto K.491. This is terrific playing with Feltsman revealing all these influences. Feltsman’s pacing of the Adagio e cantabile is beautifully done bringing out so much from this adagio with, again, so many lovely details highlighted. The dramatic middle section, with its rich chords, provides a great contrast. The lovely Finale: Tempo di Minuet is full of rhythmic bounce and provides another direct, simple melody with some gorgeous playing to end this sonata.

In the Moderato (Allegro Moderato) of the Sonata in C minor H.XVI: 20 (c.1771) Feltsman again brings a feeling of improvisation to this, one of Haydn’s better known sonatas. There is a real sense of re-discovery with a wonderful florid, tempestuous central section. The flowing Andante con moto is taken at a moderate flowing pace followed by a terrific Finale: Allegro, brilliantly played by Feltsman with such forward momentum, belying the simple melody that introduces the movement which develops so much with terrific descending passages towards the end.

The second disc of this set commences with Haydn’s two movement Sonata in C major H.XVI:48 (c.1789). The Andante con espressione is a series of variations nicely paced by Feltsman, allowing the music to unfold with a real naturalness and developing some lovely richer passages with some lovely playful touches. What a terrific second movement Rondo: Presto Feltsman gives us, so full of good humour and wonderfully played.

A joyous Allegro con brio opens Haydn’s Sonata in G major H.XVI: 39 (c.1780), again a set of variations, full of fun and perfectly caught by Feltsman. The Adagio has a lovely irregular flow with Feltsman providing some lovely rippling arpeggios and scales whilst there is a fleet Prestissimo where Feltsman, nevertheless, provides such clarity despite the tempo.

In his Sonata in D major H.XVI: 33 (c.1778) Haydn seems to look back to earlier models such as Scarlatti. There is a beautifully lithe Allegro with lovely crisp playing and a more serious Adagio, a little sombre in mood, well caught by Feltsman with playing of such melancholic feel. A bright, flowing finale marked Tempi di Menuetto rounds off this work.

The final sonata on this set is Haydn’s Sonata in G minor H.XVI: 44 (c.1771- 1788), another two movement work with a Moderato, again in a melancholy mood, with Feltsman giving a beautifully thoughtful performance and an Allegretto which doesn’t lift the mood to any great extent, Feltsman giving an exquisite performance balanced between a desire for the music to break out and its melancholy mood.

Following these eight fine sonatas, Feltsman gives us Haydn’s 12 Variations in E flat major H.XVII: 3 (c. 1766-1771). These are believed to have been originally written for harpsichord. A quiet melody (from his String Quartet Op.9 No.2) opens the variations which develop so naturally in Feltsman’s hands, at turns thoughtful, then sparkling and full of energy. All repeats are included in this lovely performance and, as the final part is reached, one feels that one has completed a particularly wonderful journey.

Vladimir Feltsman brings all his musicality, experience and wisdom to these remarkable works showing them to be the equal of Mozart. At the end one is left totally entranced and wanting more.

The recording is extremely good with quite a full acoustic around the piano but not to the detriment of detail. There are first rate notes by Vladimir Feltsman.

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