John O'Conor

Haydn: Sonatas

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On this 2016 Steinway & Sons release, John O'Conor offers a representative selection of Franz Joseph Haydn's piano sonatas, the whole of which were composed between 1766 and 1794. The five sonatas presented here are characteristic of the Classical style, to which Haydn was the most important contributor and innovator, and his techniques and expressions anticipate the more dramatic features of the piano sonatas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Yet O'Conor invites the inevitable question: Why is Haydn's music neglected? Of the great composers, Haydn is the most seriously overlooked and his music is underplayed, even though it is essential to understanding the repertoire and critical to developing good musicianship. Even though that question may not have a satisfactory answer, O'Conor certainly demonstrates how Haydn's sonatas have shaped his playing and deepened his understanding of what it means to play a piece well. This exceptional CD was released on the same day as O'Conor's recording of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, one of the most intensely difficult works for piano. However, Haydn's sonatas can be just as hard to bring off, and anyone who is impressed with O'Conor's Beethoven disc would do well to consider this a fitting companion and give it repeated hearings.

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