Sebastian Knauer

Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4, 9 & 11

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In light of the esteem with which we look upon the works of Haydn, it's somewhat surprising how few genres receive this attention. Haydn's contributions and historical importance in the genres of the symphony and string quartet are undeniable, but they certainly are not the only ensembles for which Haydn wrote. His piano concertos, for example, are just as polished, refined, and mature as his more famous genres, and just as likely to have influenced Beethoven and countless others. This Naxos album gives listeners a welcomed opportunity to hear the Third, Fourth, Ninth (whose authorship is somewhat questionable), and Eleventh concertos. Performed by pianist Sebastian Knauer with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra under Helmut Müller-Brühl, these recordings are everything listeners could ask for in a commanding and energetic interpretation of Haydn. Knauer's playing is elegant and graceful in the extreme, with even the most nimble passagework tossed off with total ease; the middle movements of each concerto are given a tremendous sense of spaciousness. Cadenzas, written by Knauer in each instance, are completely in line with the temperament and sensibility of Haydn's writing. The Cologne Chamber Orchestra matches the clarity and refinement of Knauer's playing every step of the way; the ensemble and interplay between soloist and orchestra is pleasingly seamless.

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