SOMM Recordings is pleased to announce the fourth volume in Leon McCawley’s much-praised series of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Piano Sonatas.
Six Sonatas spanning the years 1766-80 are featured: the earliest the miniature First Sonata in G major, the latest the E flat major Sonata No.51, while Robert Matthew-Walker’s fascinating booklet note charts how deftly Haydn balanced the expectations of others and his own creative ambition.
“Intended more to entertain than engage the intellect”, the fleet, divertimento-like First Sonata seems to anticipate the pedagogical leanings of Bartók’s Mikrokosmos more than a century and half later.
With its unabashed galant style, the D major-led Sonata No.30 is ‘Papa’ Haydn at his most quicksilver brilliant and delightful, while Sonata No.35, in A flat major – “a masterpiece of piano writing” – displays striking characteristics of early Romanticism.
Composed with the enhanced voice of the then newly available fortepiano in mind, sibling Sonatas Nos.48 (C major) and 49 (C sharp minor) maintain a winning Classical poise even as one surprise after another see Haydn pushing the sonata form in new and unexpected directions.
Volume I (SOMMCD 0162) received a coveted Diapason d’Or from Diapason magazine, which enthused: “What a range in his interpretation and how many layers of gradation! McCawley ties these together in a special quality of inflexions which make their point with great intelligibility and sensitivity”.
BBC Music Magazine declared Volume II (SOMMCD 0602) “should stand high on any list” of quality recordings of Haydn, adding “the sparkle of McCawley’s touch is instantly apparent”. Of Volume III (SOMMCD 0624) Gramophone hailed McCawley as “a thoughtful, keenly intelligent artist in peak form… [Haydn’s] piano works an inexhaustible source of artistic riches”.
On This Recording
Sonata No. 48 in Cmajor, Hob. XVI:35
- Allegro con brio
- Finale: Allegro Sonata No.1 in G major, Hob. XVI:8
- Allegro Sonata No. 35 in A-flat major, Hob. XVI:43
- Menuetto & Trio
- Rondo: Presto Sonata No.49 in C-sharp minor, Hob. XVI:36
- Scherzando: Allegro con brio
- Menuet & Trio: Moderato Sonata No. 51 in E-flat major, Hob. XVI:38
- Allegro moderato
- Finale: Allegro Sonata No. 30 in D major, Hob. XVI:19
- Finale: Allegro assai
“Leon McCawley’s cycle of Haydn piano sonatas is turning into a major event. This fourth volume sums up the core strengths of the series: imaginative programming and a superb sense of style, to the extent that Haydn’s notoriously thin textures in some earlier works come across as entirely natural- satisfying rather than skeletal. … There is real freshness to McCawley’s playing throughout, concomitant with a sense of Haydn’s delight in playing with form. Captured in superb sound, this is one of McCawley’s finest discs to date.” —Colin Clarke, International Piano
“it is to McCawley’s immense credit that he brings to these performances the lightness of touch and classical sensibility that so many other pianists seem to miss. With a palpable sense of vitality, elan and the good humour for which Haydn is famous, this is Haydn playing as it should be, and I cannot overstate how disappointingly rare this seems to be. … the whole series can be given the highest of recommendations. Here is a Haydn cycle for the 21st century, and I can’t wait to hear the next instalment!” —Andrew Eales, PianoDao (Recording of the Month)