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Haydn: The Complete Piano Sonatas.

Haydn: The Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3, edited by Christa Landon. Wiener Urtext Edition, 2011.; 222 pp., $42.95.

This new revision of the original Christa Landon edition of the complete piano sonatas of Haydn is a must-have for any serious musician. While some pianists may prefer an edition in which all the choices are made for them, this edition follows the conventions of a modern scholarly edition in which the sources (including those that have come to light since the 1966 edition) are compared and discrepancies are explained in critical notes, leaving all of the important interpretive choices to the performer. The minimal editorial suggestions in the score generally tend toward adding articulations, enclosed in square brackets, to create consistency within a movement.

Ulrich Leisinger's Preface serves to assure us the sources are authentic and reliable, and explains how editing decisions were made. He also includes some interesting historical tidbits, including a contract dispute between Haydn and Prince Esterhazy, as well as Haydn's attempt to excuse the fact that the same theme was used, apparently by accident, in two hastily written sonatas.

Robert Levin, in the "Notes on Interpretation," gives concise but detailed information about instruments and conventions of the time, to help the performer make informed choices on pedaling, dynamics, articulation and ornamentation. If the thought of improvising your own ornaments and embellishments strikes fear into your heart, he offers helpful suggestions. Be sure to peruse the "Suggestions for Embellishment" and try out the sample embellishments he has written.

As in any fingered edition, most pianists will want to make some changes. But beyond the personal differences one would expect, some of Oswald Jonas's choices are puzzling: scalar passages that differ from standard scale fingerings, trills on weak fingers, double-note passages that are not fingered legato in both voices, unnecessarily using the same finger on two successive notes, and so forth, but these issues would not deter me from adding all four volumes of this marvelous edition to my personal library.

--Reviewed by Heidi Brende Leathwood, University of Denver


Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.

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Author:Leathwood, Heidi Brende
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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