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13.7.04

Dip Your Ears, No. 5

cover
J. Haydn, Piano Sonatas (vol. 7),
Jenö Jandó
Naxos

Trusty Joseph Haydn, one of the greatest composers of all time, yet too humble and tame even 200 years after his death (1809). His symphonies get plenty of play, his string quartets, too, are hailed, but for a man who hasn't had a weak spot in his entire œuvre (well, some of those operas are not outright brilliant, one could argue), it should be surprising that his piano sonatas are not better known. Fifty-five piano sonatas flowed from his pen, most of them every bit as good and engaging as W. A. Mozart's, perhaps less "pretty"... but ultimately overshadowed by Beethoven's output. Piano sonatas nos. 29, 33, 34, and 35 get a wonderful outing here from Jenö Jandó on Naxos. Volume 7 in his survey of Haydn's entire piano sonata output, this is a particularly well-played disc, rivalling other wonderful recordings by Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, or Sviatoslav Richter, without overlapping with them in the selection of sonatas.

His touch—for example, in the Andante of no. 29 in E-flat major, Hob. XVI:45 (delightfully confusing)—is fleet without being precious, and the playing is admirably straightforward, without pomp where there belongs none. A tad more emotional wallowing might be desired by some, but I don't find it lacking in depth or enjoyment. On occasion methinks I can hear Mr. Jandó hum along ever so slightly, but it can't compare to the out-of-kilter Gould humming in his highly interesting if overly idiosyncratic five last Haydn sonatas. At the Naxos price it is a wonderful, if not essential, addition to one's library.

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