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Discussion: Haydn: Late Piano Works - Gary Cooper

Posts: 5

Post by channel February 20, 2009 (1 of 5)
Site review by Geohominid Today 04:09 am
Performance: Sonics (S/MC): /
Gary Cooper is one of our foremost performers on the fortepiano, well-known for his wonderful series of Mozart Violin Sonata discs with Rachel Podger. In his booklet for this recording, he tells us that "The inspiration for this recording was derived from that all-too-rare occurrence: a perfect marriage of instrument and composer's music." The piano in question is a Viennese instrument from an unknown maker, dated 1785, from the collection of Edwin Beunk. It is not a copy, as commonly found on recordings, but a lovingly restored original. Cooper might well have added that there is also a clear "marriage" between piano and performer, as these carefully prepared and superbly executed readings of Haydn's late keyboard works demonstrate.

The piano has a gleaming treble range, a warm middle section amenable to cantabile passages, and a richly sonorous and characterful bass which easily resolves Haydn's densely written bass chording. Gary Cooper selected a late C18th tuning with which Haydn would have been very familiar. The resulting temperament produces some shocks to present-day ears; e.g. the amazing plunge from the end of the first movement of Sonata 52 in E flat major to the start of its slow movement in E major. Such a temperament also spices up Haydn's already progressive harmonies in these works. Their character really demands the clarity of crisp attack and rapid decay of a fortepiano, compared to the tone of a modern Steinway, where the tone fully develops only some time after a key is struck, and the decay lasts a relatively long time.

Cooper's attractive programme has Sonata No. 48 of 1789, Sonatas nos. 49 (1789/90) and 52 (1794) interpolated with sets of variations - those on "God Preserve Emperor Franz" (Hob.iii:77, 1797) arranged from the slow movement of his 'Emperor' string quartet, and the Variations in F minor Hob.xvii:6 (1793).

Composing the paired sonatas Nos. 48 and 49 for a German publisher took Haydn's keyboard writing into new territory. It was always based on C.P.E Bach's treatise on ‘The True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments’ (1753/1762), but these pieces display a new level of fantasy, a greater use of the whole keyboard compass and much experimentation with classical solo sonata form, which had yet to "settle". In addition, the scores are very carefully marked with playing instructions, which makes their interpretation more certain. The sonatas also clearly demonstrate that knowing these late works of Haydn is important for our understanding of Beethoven's often flamboyant keyboard style in his own set of piano sonatas. During the first movement of No.49, for example, Haydn comes up with the same motive as at the opening of Beethoven's much later Fifth Symphony. It is fascinating to see how similar Haydn and Beethoven are in using this motive in their respective development sections. Later in the same sonata, Haydn also produces an uncanny anticipation of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata.

The set of Variations in F minor Hob.xvii:6 is famous for its coda, added when Haydn heard of Marianne von Genziger's death (she was an amateur player and the dedicatee of Sonatas 48 & 49). Cooper and his magnificent piano give full rein to Haydn's spontaneous and richly passionate outburst, a truly memorable feature of this disc.

Channel's recording, whether in 5.0 surround or stereo, captures all the subtle timbres and voices of the fortepiano with full fidelity, including the damping of the resonances when the pedal comes off, and the wonderful soft veiled tone when the mute pedal is applied. There is otherwise little action noise, and the surrounds add a subtle enveloping bloom to the sound, so that the listening experience is suitably intimate. One is astonished that the recording was made in the full acoustic of Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Holland. Presentation is well up to the usual Channel standards, in a gate-fold Digipak with the disc in a pleasing uncluttered clean design and a slip-out booklet with musical notes by Garry Cooper himself.

If you have not heard much of Haydn's keyboard music before, this disc would be an ideal way in. Gary Cooper brings out the improvisatory nature of Haydn's writing; unlike so many Viennese piano sonatas of the time, Haydn is always unpredictable, impish, whimsical, mixing soulful songs and earthy good humour, passion with sparkling roulades of ornamentation and sheer joy. Thankfully Cooper gives us all the repeats and is a perfect guide to the language of the piano in the late 1700's. Recommended without reservations!

Copyright © 2009 John Miller and SA-CD.net





Wow, You have really hit it on the nose. Edwin Beunk spent years restoring this piano. Having taken it completely apart and painstakingly putting it back together has indeed made all the efforts worthwhile. SACD does give this instrument its glorious moments And that is what SACD does - Bringing out the best!
Of course a player like Gary Cooper is also the other important part of this recording. We did a day and a half of recording. Then on the end of the second day we invited about 10 people to come and listen. Half of this recording is from his quasi concert! Even 10 people makes the difference in adding that 'extra' to make the recording come alive. Your review reveals that it all worth the effort of all those involved to make this happen.
Jared Sacks

Post by Cherubino February 20, 2009 (2 of 5)
channel said:

Site review by Geohominid Today 04:09 am
Performance: Sonics (S/MC): /
Gary Cooper is one of our foremost performers on the fortepiano, well-known for his wonderful series of Mozart Violin Sonata discs with Rachel Podger. In his booklet for this recording, he tells us that "The inspiration for this recording was derived from that all-too-rare occurrence: a perfect marriage of instrument and composer's music." The piano in question is a Viennese instrument from an unknown maker, dated 1785, from the collection of Edwin Beunk. It is not a copy, as commonly found on recordings, but a lovingly restored original. Cooper might well have added that there is also a clear "marriage" between piano and performer, as these carefully prepared and superbly executed readings of Haydn's late keyboard works demonstrate.

The piano has a gleaming treble range, a warm middle section amenable to cantabile passages, and a richly sonorous and characterful bass which easily resolves Haydn's densely written bass chording. Gary Cooper selected a late C18th tuning with which Haydn would have been very familiar. The resulting temperament produces some shocks to present-day ears; e.g. the amazing plunge from the end of the first movement of Sonata 52 in E flat major to the start of its slow movement in E major. Such a temperament also spices up Haydn's already progressive harmonies in these works. Their character really demands the clarity of crisp attack and rapid decay of a fortepiano, compared to the tone of a modern Steinway, where the tone fully develops only some time after a key is struck, and the decay lasts a relatively long time.

Cooper's attractive programme has Sonata No. 48 of 1789, Sonatas nos. 49 (1789/90) and 52 (1794) interpolated with sets of variations - those on "God Preserve Emperor Franz" (Hob.iii:77, 1797) arranged from the slow movement of his 'Emperor' string quartet, and the Variations in F minor Hob.xvii:6 (1793).

Composing the paired sonatas Nos. 48 and 49 for a German publisher took Haydn's keyboard writing into new territory. It was always based on C.P.E Bach's treatise on ‘The True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments’ (1753/1762), but these pieces display a new level of fantasy, a greater use of the whole keyboard compass and much experimentation with classical solo sonata form, which had yet to "settle". In addition, the scores are very carefully marked with playing instructions, which makes their interpretation more certain. The sonatas also clearly demonstrate that knowing these late works of Haydn is important for our understanding of Beethoven's often flamboyant keyboard style in his own set of piano sonatas. During the first movement of No.49, for example, Haydn comes up with the same motive as at the opening of Beethoven's much later Fifth Symphony. It is fascinating to see how similar Haydn and Beethoven are in using this motive in their respective development sections. Later in the same sonata, Haydn also produces an uncanny anticipation of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata.

The set of Variations in F minor Hob.xvii:6 is famous for its coda, added when Haydn heard of Marianne von Genziger's death (she was an amateur player and the dedicatee of Sonatas 48 & 49). Cooper and his magnificent piano give full rein to Haydn's spontaneous and richly passionate outburst, a truly memorable feature of this disc.

Channel's recording, whether in 5.0 surround or stereo, captures all the subtle timbres and voices of the fortepiano with full fidelity, including the damping of the resonances when the pedal comes off, and the wonderful soft veiled tone when the mute pedal is applied. There is otherwise little action noise, and the surrounds add a subtle enveloping bloom to the sound, so that the listening experience is suitably intimate. One is astonished that the recording was made in the full acoustic of Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Holland. Presentation is well up to the usual Channel standards, in a gate-fold Digipak with the disc in a pleasing uncluttered clean design and a slip-out booklet with musical notes by Garry Cooper himself.

If you have not heard much of Haydn's keyboard music before, this disc would be an ideal way in. Gary Cooper brings out the improvisatory nature of Haydn's writing; unlike so many Viennese piano sonatas of the time, Haydn is always unpredictable, impish, whimsical, mixing soulful songs and earthy good humour, passion with sparkling roulades of ornamentation and sheer joy. Thankfully Cooper gives us all the repeats and is a perfect guide to the language of the piano in the late 1700's. Recommended without reservations!

Copyright © 2009 John Miller and SA-CD.net





Wow, You have really hit it on the nose. Edwin Beunk spent years restoring this piano. Having taken it completely apart and painstakingly putting it back together has indeed made all the efforts worthwhile. SACD does give this instrument its glorious moments And that is what SACD does - Bringing out the best!
Of course a player like Gary Cooper is also the other important part of this recording. We did a day and a half of recording. Then on the end of the second day we invited about 10 people to come and listen. Half of this recording is from his quasi concert! Even 10 people makes the difference in adding that 'extra' to make the recording come alive. Your review reveals that it all worth the effort of all those involved to make this happen.
Jared Sacks

Given what we've heard from both the playing and the recording quality of all six volumes of the Cooper/Podger Mozart Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin (I have them all, and anxiously await the final, 2 disc set), this review, while certainly welcome, is not at all surprising. Any chance Channel Classics will record all the Haydn Piano Sonatas with Mr. Cooper for SACD release?

Post by channel February 20, 2009 (3 of 5)
Cherubino said:

Given what we've heard from both the playing and the recording quality of all six volumes of the Cooper/Podger Mozart Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin (I have them all, and anxiously await the final, 2 disc set), this review, while certainly welcome, is not at all surprising. Any chance Channel Classics will record all the Haydn Piano Sonatas with Mr. Cooper for SACD release?

I don't think so. Actually we have already recorded the Beethoven Diabelli variationns on another piano of Edwin Beunk that he also has completely restored. This will be out in September.
Jared

Post by Cherubino February 20, 2009 (4 of 5)
channel said:

I don't think so. Actually we have already recorded the Beethoven Diabelli variationns on another piano of Edwin Beunk that he also has completely restored. This will be out in September.
Jared

I'm less interested in the piano than I am SACDs of Cooper's Haydn Piano Sonatas. Here's a thought, if the Haydn "Late Piano Works" sells particularly well, would Channel reconsider the piano sonatas?

Post by Geohominid February 21, 2009 (5 of 5)
Hi Jared,

I could have written pages about Gary Cooper's playing. It was very satisfying to hear so much of Malcolm Bilson's studies of score notation and performing practise in Viennese classical music (e.g. http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=4549) used in a modern recording. Congratulations on a fine job by your whole team.

Regards, John

Closed