Joseph Haydn and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet: all-round geniuses. Special listening abounds in Volume Seven of Bavouzet’s Chandos series devoted to this wonderful and innovative composer’s keyboard Sonatas, each movement bringing a feast of design and invention, surprises galore, Haydn an ideas man who takes them on a journey of subtle, sly and, sometimes, downright fanciful twists and turns; even the simplest gestures have a magic to them.
I wouldn’t want to be without Alfred Brendel’s selection of Sonatas (originally on Philips) or John McCabe (complete) or Alain Planès, or now Bavouzet. From him the music sings and sparkles, crisply enunciated, and with wit and joy. Any of the fifteen movements here (one Sonata has four, unusually, another two, less atypical) are pleasing, different from any one other, and the Finale of the E-major (46/31) is a particular pleasure, a corker in fact, a capricious smile-inducing dance with mischievous episodes, Bavouzet not allowing the Presto marking to get in the way of clarity – there are a lot of notes and ornaments to fit in – his Yamaha the perfect partner, recorded intimately to the rescue of everything the pianist touches and pedals; and, by contrast, the Adagio of 13/6 (the four-movement Sonata) is wonderfully lyrical and tender, loaded with emotion: earworms come in different guises.
And not forgetting the large-scale 57/47 (typically Bavouzet observes all repeats), which has all the hallmarks of a great composer in patrician and richly expressive form; following the soul-searching Larghetto the Finale is happy-go-lucky.