Review: Haydn Piano Sonatas and Concertos

03.01.15
Anne-Marie McDermott
International Record Review

"The wonderful late C major Sonata (Hob. XVI/50) and the even greater E flat Sonata (Hob. XVI/52) demand pianism of the highest order – by which I mean, in addition to the nimblest of fingers, the essential but elusive elements of imagination and insight. Happily, there is no shortage of either, in this pianist’s armoury. Very typical are the fleet-fingered articulation McDermott shows in the very first track of the first CD, the F major Sonata (Hob. XVI/23), where the opening movement is taken at a cracking tempo that outsprints Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s fine 2012 version of the same piece (likewise on a modern piano). What is also immediately striking is her superlative control of levels of dynamics: she seems to have every level from pp to ff at her instant beck and call. Allied to a feather-light staccato touch, ultra-smooth, even pearly, runs and trills, impeccable repeated notes, and the sense that she’s listening hard all the time to her left hand as well as to her right, and you have the hallmarks of an impressive classical player. Her preferred instrument is proclaimed as a Yamaha: what’s the difference for the listener? Is it a slightly lighter bass end? Or that may be an impression produced by the excellent recording – everything here, concertos as well as sonatas, was recorded over four days in the concert hall at Odense in Denmark. It sounds noticeably different from Bavouzet’s Steinway."

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