Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is the first of a series of Haydn sonata discs by Emanuel Ax for CBS, probably not complete (see: Fanfare 12:4, p. 479). Three of these four are among the best-known sonatas, and all are suitable candidates for Ax's modern concert grand. He approaches Haydn from the Beethoven end, making his readings a touch weightier and more serious than most other pianists. How fitting, in the case of No. 60: it was written about 1794, and the young man who had been Haydn's pupil a year before published his own first sonatas a year later. The C-Minor Sonata of 1772 also benefits from Ax's serious reading; no "Sturm und Drang" exaggerations are needed. But Ax does not lose sight of other sides of Haydn's personality; his playing of the
F-Major Sonata is light and graceful, its Adagio pure bliss. Among other modern-piano recordings, three of these sonatas are played by András Schiff on a Denon disc (Fanfare 9:4); at first Schiff's more pointed staccatos seem livelier; but, after hearing Ax through, Schiff seems a touch fussy, almost Gouldish. One word sums up Ax's Haydn: satisfying. CBS has supported Ax with excellent reproduction; his piano comes through with bright singing highs and warm solid bass, smoothly integrated across the spectrum. How will he do with sonatas farther from Beethoven and from his concert grand? I look forward to finding out.
-- James H. North, FANFARE [9/1989] Read less
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