Bobby Mitchell – Haydn: Fortepiano Sonatas, Adagio & Variations (2014) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/88,2kHz]

Bobby Mitchell – Haydn: Fortepiano Sonatas, Adagio & Variations (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.31 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

For his first disc, Bobby Mitchell, ‘Alpha winner’ of the legendary Bruges Competition, proposes a programme devoted to Joseph Haydn. His interpretation, juvenile yet based on solid musicological research, lets us rediscover all of Haydn’s humour as well as the depth of his feelings. It also reveals an unusual musical personality and an absolutely remarkable pianist.

Bobby Mitchell is a perfect example of Alpha’s desire to bear witness to the talent of young artists and to accompany them in their development: a way for the label to contribute to the future of ‘early music’.

Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn, Bobby Mitchell
Performer: Bobby Mitchell


American pianist Bobby Mitchell is not well known in his native land but made a major splash as the first winner of Belgium’s Outhere Music Prize. Even without wanting to go along with the choices he has made on this album of Haydn pieces, it’s evident what attracted the judges to this artist. It’s a question of originality, plus the flair to pull it off. Mitchell writes that when he plays Haydn alone at home, it enlightens him, “but it simultaneously offers me the power to transform into a man of the theater.” His Haydn is indeed theatrical, full of sharp, rhythmic gestures and nervous energy. It’s as if Liszt had played Haydn, and the example of Liszt is apropos: Mitchell plays short improvisations between the pieces on the program, just as Liszt was known to do with Beethoven’s sonatas. Mitchell cheerfully informs readers in a note that this was “traditionally practiced.” It may have been, but it was just as traditionally disparaged; Mozart and Beethoven, though they both included elements of improvisation in performances at times, specifically discouraged others from doing so. One also wonders why someone so adamant about historical authenticity would play the Keyboard Sonata in F major, Hob. 16/23, on a fortepiano; it is explicitly designated by the composer as a harpsichord work. Listeners might do better for this kind of reading with the modern-instrument performances of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, but there’s an X factor of sheer boldness working in Mitchell’s favor. Another attraction is his restored 1799 Stein fortepiano, with its ringing top and punchy bottom. Some copies of this release apparently give the date of the instrument as 1775, but the 1799 date seems much more likely. Mitchell is, at the very least, a young artist to watch.

1. I. Allegro moderato (07:57)
2. II. Adagio (07:50)
3. III. Finale (Presto) (04:31)
4. Improvised Transition from F Major to E-Flat Major (00:40)
5. I. Allegro moderato (10:29)
6. II. Menuetto – Trio (03:46)
7. III. Finale (Presto) (03:13)
8. Improvised Transition from E-Flat Major to C Major (00:50)
9. I. Andante con espressione (06:41)
10. II. Rondo (Presto) (04:13)
11. Improvised Transition from C Major to F Major (00:52)
12. Adagio in F Major, Hob. XVII:9 (04:19)
13. Andante con variazioni in F Minor, Hob. XVII:6 (20:07)