The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando has issued performances of a great many pieces by Haydn, and the temptation is strong to pass by this collection of works that are obscure and, in several cases, cranked out at parties at Esterhaza castle. This would be a mistake, for there are real finds here. Among them is the opening Fantasia in C major, Hob. 17/4, which offers a splendid example of Haydn's attempts to exploit the sound of the new fortepiano, and has some striking uses of third relationships as well (sample and note the points at which the main theme returns in this sonata-like piece). Jando uses a modern piano, but he carefully distinguishes between the works from late in Haydn's career, where he creates a percussive, fortepiano-like effect, and the Five Variations in D major, Hob. 17/7, from very early in Haydn's career, where he emulates the original harpsichord with crisp, clean lines. The two sets of minuets, and the single group of German Dances and the Two Marches, Hob. 8/1-2 of 1795 were all occasional pieces. Jando takes all the minuets at the same tempo, which is justifiable in view of the ubiquitous "tempo di minuetto" marking in music of the time, and it seems possible that the music, arranged from a version for a small ensemble, was actually written for dancers. For the casual listener these may be a bit monotonous, but for the true Haydn lover, they will be seen as deep studies in register, harmony, and melodic shape. This is thus a nice find for good Haydn collections. Naxos' sound from the Phoenix Studio in Budapest is unusually good.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim