> Haydn Sonatas Rappe ADW7206 [TB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Sonata in C minor, Hob.XVI/20
Sonata in F major, Hob.XVI/23
Sonata in A flat major, Hob.XVI/46

Etienne Rappe (piano)
Rec 1988, Théâtre du Résidence Palace, Brussels
PAVANE ADW 7206 [56.00]


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Although he was not a virtuoso pianist like his friend and fellow composer Mozart, Haydn did show a consistent interest in keyboard music during his long and distinguished career. His piano sonatas are full of interest, having held their place in the repertory across more than two centuries, even if they do not quite represent the main focus of the composer's achievement. The proof of all this is that the world's leading pianists play Haydn's sonatas on a regular basis.

The Belgian pianist Etienne Rappe was born in 1965, and he was just 23 when he recorded these three sonatas. He has not developed into a major artist on the international stage, however, and the present British catalogue features no recordings by him. Yet on the evidence of these performances he is a gifted pianist with clear and well focused musical judgement.

These performances certainly capture the spirit of Haydn. Rappe plays a splendid Fazioli instrument, not a 'contemporary' fortepiano, and his control of both tone and phrasing is excellent and thoroughly appropriate. Each of the sonatas therefore has a well articulated balance of lyricism and activity, with clear textural details easily communicated. Take the opening of the F major Sonata, for example, in which the phrasing is beautifully shaped to allow the music's momentum to develop (TRACK 1: 0.00).

The recorded sound is pleasing, too, in a natural acoustic which allows shadings of dynamic to make their mark (TRACK 3: 0.00, for example). There may be more celebrated performances by star pianists, but I doubt that they will give more pleasure than this.

Terry Barfoot


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