Bergmann was clearly an artist of versatility as well as integrity.
She also recorded Schoenberg (Pierrot) with Hans Rosbaud
(Wergo 6403-2: now deleted), and Boulez with the composer. Such
was obviously the diversity available in Baden-Baden at the time
(and also part of the burden of being a ‘radio pianist’). The
booklet attests to the severity of her schedule (more appropriate
to a sweat-shop than a radio studio: the SWR computer registers
2700 hits for the search criterion ‘Maria Bergman’, apparently).
In addition to solo work, she accompanied around 160 artists of
the calibre of Souzay, Grumiaux, Starker …. That these Haydn Sonatas
emerge with such easy spontaneity and freshness is all the more
is much more than merely a historical document. This recording
constitutes her ‘çomplete’ Haydn discography: some nine
sonatas in all. Pinpointing the date of composition of the earlier
ones has to be approximate, but there is nothing approximate about
the performance. The freshness of the opening C major, HobXVI:1
is a fine exemplar of Bergmann’s art. The touch is light and stylish,
the articulation always clean, left hand always even (Track 1).
Neither is Bergmann afraid of projecting the grander emotions.
Take her handling of the Largo e sostenuto slow movement of the
D major, HobXVI:37 (Track 20). Bergmann imbues the music with
a Handelian breadth of utterance. In fact, the slow movements
in general are of particular interest on this disc. In lesser
hands they can descend to the insubstantial, but never here, whether
the dominant emotion be the tendresse of HobXVI:3 or the
almost mesmeric tension of the Adagio of HobXVI:46. Bergmann’s
conviction is beyond criticism.
can be a particular delight: try the busy, delightful final movement
of HobXVI:8 in G (Track 15). Whatever the movement, tempi just
feel right, surely the product of prolonged study. How many pianists
these days can boast of Haydn as enjoyable as this and yet be
equally at home with Henze, Stravinsky, Boulez and Stockhausen,
small point: it dates me and makes me feel old to hear recordings
from as late as 1976 classified as ‘historical’. Either classifications
are widening or I am hurtling towards the Great Unknown faster
than I feared ..
this is a box of delights, and one can only hope fervently for
more Bergmann from Haenssler.