Viviane Chassot

Haydn: Keyboard Concertos

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The accordion was not even known in Haydn's time, and playing the composer's keyboard concertos on the instrument carries a strong whiff of novelty for novelty's sake. Yet the four works performed here by Swiss accordionist Viviane Chassot, one of the accordion's few players in the classical sphere, are more than listenable. The combination clicks for several reasons. First is that Haydn's concertos specifically, with their rather muted contrast between soloist and orchestra, work better than Mozart or a later composer might have. Second is the sheer beauty of Chassot's playing. Sample one of the slow movements, such as the "Adagio cantabile" of the Keyboard Concerto in G major, Hob. 18/4, to hear the shades of timbre she brings out from her accordion; given the instrument's limited dynamic range, the timbres of the accordion almost take the place of dynamic shifts. It's a wholly novel effect. Third is the crack work of the Kammerorchester Basel, which lays out flat, fast tutti that sets Chassot's playing off most advantageously. Sony's church sound is a bit brittle, and it's hard to call this essential, but it's certainly a pleasant hour of Haydn for accordion lovers or anyone else.

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