Notes and Editorial Reviews
My first thought upon receiving this set for review was that it was a re-packaging of previously released material, especially since “2 CDs for the Price of One” is stamped on the jewel case spine. Turns out these are new recordings dating from May 2005. I’ve not heard “Andreas Haefliger Perspectives 1,” containing works by Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Adès, that came out in 2004. It was reviewed by Peter Burwasser in 28:4.
The “theme”(?) of these collections seems to be one of including a work by a modern composer along with works chosen from the core Classical and Romantic repertoire. If there is a connection, it is not elucidated, and I’m not sure what it might be. Would it
have made more sense, for example, to include the Adès in this collection rather than in “Perspectives 1”? Adès wrote a short piece he called
Brahms, Op. 21
, which it might have been argued, convincingly or not, has some tie-in with the Brahms sonata on the current program. Well, no matter.
My first encounter with Andreas Haefliger on disc was a 1993 Sony release (long gone from the catalog) of Schubert’s impromptus. I recognized immediately that here was a pianist to be reckoned with. And indeed, Burwasser concurred that “Haefliger is a superb Schubertian, never afraid to give the music heft and contour; athletic, but not too muscular. His phrasing has a coiled tension that brings us to the core of the music’s poetry.”
Based on my listening to these CDs, “Andreas Haefliger Perspectives 2
I find myself with mixed feelings. The not too muscular heft and athleticism of which Burwasser speaks are clearly evident, but I don’t hear much of the poetry in Haefliger’s reading of the Beethoven F-Major Sonata, which strikes me as somewhat literal and foursquare. The E-Minor Sonata, by virtue of its more lyrical nature, flows more smoothly.
In contrast, the driving, percussive, quirky rhythms of Bartók’s
Out of Doors Suite
are hair-raising. It is here that Haefliger’s “heft,” not to mention his nimble fingerwork, truly rises to the occasion. This is quite exceptional playing that needs to be heard.
Poor Brahms. Sonatas, it seems, were not his piano forte. He composed three of them, all before his 21st birthday, and then never returned to the form. Massive, dense, and counterintuitive to keyboard technique, they are more muscle and bone than soft, supple tissue. Where there is heavy lifting to be done, Haefliger is the man to do it. He has enough brawn and biceps in this F-Minor Sonata to do serious damage to his Steinway D and to your speakers, if you’re not careful. This is playing of such power and scale that had Brahms heard it he might have reconsidered abandoning the form so prematurely.
Haefliger’s Brahms and Bartók receive the highest marks; his Beethoven, I respectfully submit, could do with a little more imagination. Still, very strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Out of Doors, Sz 81 by Béla Bartók
Andreas Haefliger (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary
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