Given that Haydn left few instructions concerning the interpretation of his sonatas, Bavouzet notes that the performer “must, even more than usual, create his own world, his own logic, left only to hope that … he will not distance himself too far from the composer’s intentions”. Bavouzet relishes this challenge of bringing Haydn’s sonatas to life. In the latest instalment of his cycle he takes two early and four later sonatas and works his own musical magic with them. Of particular concern are the issues of ornamentation and repeats. Repeats are ornamented with imagination and elegance and in certain cases codas are ‘saved’ for the final repeat. These performances are admirable in their attention to detail and are delivered with a technical fluency that is always at the service of the music.
The insightful annotations reveal Bavouzet’s fascination with these delightful works and his sense of artistic freedom. In the A major sonata (Hob XVI: 12) he was intrigued by the chromatic, minor mode Trio of the Menuet. As a thoughtful epilogue, he plays it at a much slower speed than would be possible ‘in situ’. Bavouzet’s use of a Yamaha piano with its clear, bright treble is one point of difference between his cycle and that of Marc- André Hamelin (who plays a Steinway). Hamelin tends towards slightly faster tempos, aiding his focus on the ‘big picture’ (which is not without its fair share of detail). For example, Hamelin invests the opening movement of the D major sonata (Hob XVI: 42) with great rhetorical freedom while Bavouzet seems more strict. On the other hand, Bavouzet is not beyond poking fun at the ‘Allegro innocente’ marking in the G major sonata (Hob XVI: 40). Both of these complementary cycles are welcome contributions to the current Haydn revival.