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Haydn: Three Piano Concertos / Schnyder, Watkinson, Asmf

Haydn / Schnyder,Oliver
Release Date: 06/19/2012 
Label:  Rca   Catalog #: 5405932   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Oliver Schnyder
Conductor:  Andrew Watkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HAYDN Piano Concertos: in F; in G; in D Oliver Schnyder, pn; Andrew Watkinson, cond; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields RCA 88725 40593 2 (59:32)


As I’ve commented before, Haydn’s one fine piano concerto—the D Major, Hob. III:11—always needs disc-fillers, so his (much) lesser concertos get more recordings than we need. So it is here, but with a difference. Unusually, we start with a lesser one, the F-Major. Right from the opening tutti, a consistently serious, even mellow performance is in evidence. The Read more instruments are modern, the playing is superb, and the atmosphere unusually friendly—thoroughly charming without any suggestion of smarm or sugar. Oliver Schnyder’s piano is in tune with that approach, his playing impeccable yet never showy. He has a way of separating right and left hands as if two minds are at work; that creates a moment or two of surprise, but it does make everything crystal clear. The final Presto is fully up to speed, exciting yet still charming. I have on occasion been a bit embarrassed by Haydn’s early concertos, feeling them not up to his amazing levels of consistent mastery; no such feeling is invoked here, and this disc is welcomed especially for that. The same approach nearly works the same magic with the G-Major Concerto, but its square thematic phrases and awkward transitions are too much for even Schnyder and Andrew Watkinson.


Schnyder (b.1973) is a Swiss who studied with Ruth Laredo and Leon Fleisher. He seems to have eschewed piano competitions (more power to him!) and has made a successful career throughout Europe, with appearances as widespread as New York and Taipei. The booklet speaks of his aesthetic approach as being compared to Kempff, Schnabel, Fischer, Barenboim, Perahia, or Brendel; what I hear is a Lipatti-like assurance and rightness of touch and tone. His phrasing shows strong individualism, always within the boundaries of taste and convention.


This performance of the D-Major concerto is not as unique as that of the F Major, but it continues to shine the pianist’s personal light on a Haydn score; the final Rondo all’Ungherese is particularly winning. Thoroughly taken as I am, potential listeners are warned about two facets: Schnyder plays his own cadenzas (Bravo! That’s what cadenzas are for), which can surprise—and therefore have a potential to annoy—and he is his own man about repeats, choosing not to extend the D Major’s opening Vivace to the inordinate lengths so often heard. On one thing we can all agree: These 2011 recordings from Henry Wood Hall are superbly natural and clean. This disc is a keeper.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Keyboard in G major, H 18 no 4 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Oliver Schnyder (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Watkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1781; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
2.
Concerto for Keyboard in F major, H 18 no 3 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Oliver Schnyder (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Watkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1771; Austria 
3.
Concerto for Keyboard in D major, H 18 no 11 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Oliver Schnyder (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Watkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1784; Eszterhazá, Hungary 

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