B minor (Hoboken 32)
C minor (Hob 20)
D (Hob 37)
D (Hob 51)
A flat (Hob 43)
Alain Planès (piano)
Recorded in August 2001 at Salle modulable, IRCAM, Paris
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: March 2004
CD No: HARMONIA MUNDI
This is the third volume of Alain Planès’s Haydn sonata series, and it’s every bit as inspired as the first two (HMC 901761 & 901762). I suspect that these recordings are a well-kept secret, for it’s only recently that I landed on those earlier issues and, frankly, I was amazed. Some of that amazement was due to Planès himself; he isn’t a household name in the UK, and one can’t listen to everything, but he is now firmly established in my mind as a Haydn interpreter of absolute distinction, alongside Brendel (Philips) and Buchbinder (Teldec).
Planès has the range of a modern piano to exploit – and he does so with great imagination; he can conjure the bald timbre of an ’early’ piano and be fully sonorous as he believes is appropriate. His decisions are nearly always infallible. He is as varied as the music itself, alive to the wit and seriousness, the drive and spaciousness, the nostalgic and the forward-looking, and he is quite capable of being detached and searching as well as light and witty.
With a full clutch of repeats each sonata here is given its full dimension, Planès’s classical/romantic approach maybe epitomised by the first movement of the great C minor sonata, its first movement given with incisive breadth and also with a rumination that dispels any worries about the pianist playing within authentic parameters. Throughout, Planès is a thoughtful and sensitive stylist and finds deep expression in the ’Largo e sostenuto’ of the D major sonata (Hob 37) – as directly an emotional response as one could want.
As ever with Haydn, the sheer diversity of the music, no two movements the same, is breathtaking; and Planès has the full measure of Haydn’s coruscation, elegance, pathos and comedic asides. In short, this is wonderful playing of wonderful music. To complete a very distinguished issue, Planès has been recorded with a presence and a clarity that is virtually ideal.