Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s Haydn series reaches its ninth volume with this release. As in previous instalments, the catch here is that Bavouzet plays sonatas from different periods of Haydn’s life. It’s a neat trick, giving us a chance to hear how Haydn’s style developed, as well as allowing plenty of variety in the program.
The disc opens with the charming Sonata No 10 in C, Hob. XVI: 1. This is pure early Classical-period neatness, with a delightfully simple slow movement that Bavouzet imbues with an easy clarity. The middle-period Sonata No 41 in A and Sonata No 44 in F are where Haydn’s trademark humour really comes to the fore. The opening movement of the F Major sonata, for instance, keeps getting interrupted by sparkles of demisemiquavers bursting into life. Bavouzet’s playing of these clearly gels with Haydn’s sense of style; in the incredibly short (under one minute) last movement of the A Major sonata rushes into a dizzying crescendo before Bavouzet adds an expectant moment of silence, before an amusingly pat ending.
The disc closes with one of Haydn’s most frequently performed piano works, the dramatic Sonata No 53 in E Minor. Bavouzet’s touch here gives this piece (surely verging on warhorse territory?) a refreshing sense of light. Bavouzet’s enthusiastic endorsement of Yamaha pianos merits its own page in the liner notes, so it’s perhaps his use of these instruments that generates such a clean line. Or, quite possibly, it’s simply Bavouzet’s mastery of this repertoire on display.
Works: Piano Sonatas Volume 9
Performer: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet p
Label: Chandos CHAN20131