BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

Pi­ano Sonatas Nos 29, 32, 36, 47 and 52; Diver­ti­mento in E flat

Ro­man Rabi­novich (pi­ano) First Hand Records FHR71 100:39 mins (2 discs)

★ow many pi­ano sonatas did ★aydn write? In the liner-note to this disc Jonathan Sum­mers writes that although more than 80 have been at­trib­uted to him, a like­lier fig­ure is 62, and that the com­poser him­self deleted some early ones from the cat­a­logue as be­ing ‘not worth pre­serv­ing’. More­over, he

didn’t ac­tu­ally use the term sonata un­til 1771, us­ing in­stead par­tita and diver­ti­mento be­fore that date. And there’s an in­ter­est­ing di­ver­gence of view on the Diver­ti­mento which Ro­man Rabi­novich in­cludes in this set. Sum­mers dis­misses its first move­ment as suf­fer­ing from a ‘lack of mu­si­cal in­ven­tion’, with the re­main­der pos­sess­ing charm but be­ing ‘in­con­se­quen­tial’; but in an in­ter­view Rabi­novich has said he loves its un­pre­ten­tious­ness. Clearly the two men did not talk.

At all events, this first vol­ume in what will be a com­plete set of the ★aydn pi­ano sonata oeu­vre is both fas­ci­nat­ing and hugely im­pres­sive. Be­fore mov­ing with his fam­ily to Is­rael when he was eight, Rabi­novich grew up in Tashkent, where he got an ex­cel­lent ground­ing in the Uspen­sky School for Gifted Chil­dren whose other dis­tin­guished lu­mi­nar­ies have in­cluded Ye­fim Bronf­man, Stanislav Iouden­itch, Alexei Sul­tanov, and Be­hzod Ab­du­raimov. Rabi­novich is def­i­nitely of com­pa­ra­ble cal­i­bre.

★is sound is bright, mus­cu­lar, and clean, and he brings out all the wit and del­i­cacy of ★aydn’s in­ven­tion; his ar­tic­u­la­tion is im­mac­u­late no mat­ter how fast he goes; and he re­sponds imag­i­na­tively to those mo­ments when ★aydn’s ex­per­i­ments seem de­signed to puz­zle his in­ter­preters. Where ad lib or­na­men­ta­tion is called for, he ap­plies it spar­ingly, with ex­quis­ite shad­ing. And what a plea­sure to en­counter works which are sel­dom heard in recital. This ‘com­plete’ ★aydn may oust Ru­dolf Buch­binder’s mag­is­te­rial set as the bench­mark record­ing. Michael Church



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