Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's recordings of Haydn's complete piano sonatas mix the cycle up chronologically, giving each album a mix of early, middle, and late works. This is ideal from the point of view of the listener who doesn't want to commit to the whole set, and you might easily start with this volume, the eighth in the series, if you're part of that group. You get a superb performance of the Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. 16:49, one that fits Bavouzet's subtle touch beautifully. Sample the finale, a little piece that treats registers as subtly as Webern. There's another E flat major sonata from around 1780, and three early works that were surely written for a harpsichord. Bavouzet does well in adding a bit of personality, such as spontaneous-sounding ornaments and variation, without pushing the music too far into the pianistic realm; the early works come off as really lively, although he can't do much with the Keyboard Sonata in D major, Hob. 17/D1, which was likely not by Haydn. You also get two miscellaneous short keyboard works here, including a piano version of the famed variation set from the String Quartet in C major, Op. 76, No. 3 ("Emperor"). An enjoyable Haydn set in its own right.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata No. 5 (Hob.XVI:11) in G major (Divertimento)|
|Sonata No. 51 (Hob.XVI:38) in E flat major|
|Sonata No. 6 (Hob.XVI:10) in C major (Divertimento)|
|Sonata No. 7 (ob. XVII:D1) in D major (Variazioni)|
|Sonata No. 59 (Hob. XVI:49) in E flat major|