Haydn: “per il Cembalo Solo”

Pink chrysanthemum

Pierre Gallon harpsichord
Encelade ECL1701
HobXVI: 6, 12, 24, 27; HobXVIa: 17, 23, 24; HobXVII:1

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]allon makes a convincing case for playing early Haydn keyboard music on the harpsichord, in this recording on an instrument by Jonte Knif, generically based on German 18th-century originals. He has chosen eight works composed over a sixteen-year period from c. 1765 to 1781. Two sonatas (Hob XVI:24 and 27), a partita (Hob XVI:6) and a divertimento (Hob XVI:12) – both essentially also sonatas – are contrasted with a Capriccio (Hob XVII:1) and transcriptions of three Lieder.

Gallon produces exciting but controlled playing, whose pacing is always well-judged and comfortable to listen to. He makes effective use of agogic accents and rubato to compensate for the lack of weight on the harpsichord, but also uses the registration possibilities of his double-manual instrument very effectively. It has a particularly mellow sound and is closely recorded to provide an intimate atmosphere appropriate to music composed, as pointed out in the accompanying booklet, for amateurs rather than as a showcase for a performing composer. The comprehensive booklet includes an informative discussion by C. Himelfarb about Haydn’s place in keyboard music history and the instruments he would have known. I enjoyed this recording very much and am happy to give it the highest recommendation.

Noel O’Regan