Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Piano Sonatas Vol. 10, nos. 1-10.
Jeno Jando
rec. Phoenix Studio, Budapest, at the Unitarian Church, February 1996.
NAXOS 8.553824 [70.47]
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Listed Comparison
John McCabe, The Piano Sonatas, Decca 443-785-2 (12 CDs) rec. 1974-7, All Saints' Church Petersham

Jando must be nearing the end of his odyssey, taking longer than John McCabe because of so many other commitments. The vernal consensus is a matter of preference: Jando's crisp no-nonsense playing is generally brisker than McCabe's unreconstructed but still scholarly, modern readings. Both use modern pianos, both are aware, to some extent, of period practice, Jando benefiting from another 20 years of it. Even the cost doesn't enter into it; if Jando runs to 12 CDs the cost will be almost identical. McCabe's Decca packaging has the advantage on shelf-space. Neither Ronald Brautigam on period instruments nor some of the one-off Haydn players have challenged this duo. Brautigam lacks sparkle, and Staier hasn't entered into this arena. Nor Levin or Tan.

These are the earliest works, dating from c. 1763-67, thus those most likely to benefit from the Jando approach. Several are spurious, though scholarship tends to favour them; and No. 5 for is a composite. The sound is quite close, and McCabe himself benefits from a beautifully caught piano sound, crystalline and with plenty of air around it. The piano timbre itself is quite close to a fortepiano, as it happens. Jando's pianism is crisper, less rounded and shaded. In these works a correct classicism like Jando's would appear to be more authentic, but they're very much the earliest works and benefit from as much advocacy as possible. McCabe coaxes out of the first in G major an extra few seconds of expressiveness, and out of No. 7, which has at its heart a theme and variations, an extra level of fantasy. Jando lays out the variations more crisply, bringing out the structure particularly well. For his part Jando addresses the piano with terrific ebullience and forward drive that again these works need. The end of No. 5 in G, for instance a composite work (its opening is also the finale of No. 4!) benefits from Jando's more hard-driven approach. Yet the heart of this minuet seems beautifully held by McCabe in a terracing of small intensities before the return of the opening whisks it off into G strings. Again, McCabe's handling of the close of such movements as No. 6 in C is a quiet miracle of fining down. And here he has the speed edge (like the opening of No. 2 in G) over Jando too.

On the other hand, Jando's fizz with the same work's Presto finale is something to savour. And his tossing away the finales of most of these works is tremendously Haydnesque. But, in case this appears too polarised, one should aver that there's no lack of poetry either in Jando: he too can deploy great delicacy of touch (the opening of No. 7 again), and the fairly close-miked sound is excellent; picking up detail but not poking it. And he rushes and pulls back the Presto of No. 8 in A like a modern child with an antique spinning top. He pretends he doesn't quite know how to keep it turning, and flips over the penultimate phrases in a manic speed-up, before elegantly applying his hands as brakes. And he unpacks the delicate pathos in the Moderato of No. 9 in D, coaxing it out like some Agostinelli Rococo figurine of a vanished patron; and puts it back. No, Haydn aficionados will want both. McCabe with several (or all) Jandos is the best of all possible worlds. Until Staier comes along.

Simon Jenner

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: