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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Piano Trios Complete Edition Volume 5

Trio in D, Hob. XV:24 (1794) [12.17]
Trio in G, Hob. XV:25 (1794) [14.27]
Trio in f#, Hob. XV:26 (1794) [17.41]
Trio in eb, Hob. XV:31 (1795) [12.54]
Trio in G, Hob. XV:32 (1792) [16.44]
Trio 1790: Annette Wehnert, violin; Mercedes Ruiz, violoncello; Harold Hoeren, fortepiano by Derek Adlam, 1978, after Matthäus Heilmann, 1790
Recorded in the Sendesaal des Deutschland Radio Köln, March 16, 2001
Notes in Deutsch, English, and Français. Portrait of the Artists.
CPO 999 828-2 [74.44]


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Comparison recordings:
Trios in G and f#, Pro Arte Trio of Bucharest AIX 1340 AX DVD Audio
Haydn-Trio Wien Teldec LP (OP)

Of all the great composers Haydn was the nicest. His genial playfulness and his genuine desire to please and to entertain shows clearly through all his music and is one of its most endearing qualities. That he was also a genius and craftsman of the very highest order is also unmistakably, but quietly, evident. His legendarily unhappy marriage and his devout Catholicism that forbade a divorce left him susceptible to sympathetic female companionship. Attractive female musicians probably attempted to exploit the lonely Haydn to further their careers, but he was not an easy mark and only actually became involved a few times when there was genuine affection on both sides; and he always remained a long term loyal friend.

Haydn never identified with his aristocratic employers and who expected him to wear a servantís uniform, but instead remained loyal to the friends and relations in the Austrian village of Rohrau where he grew up who gave him his first musical successes and always rejoiced with him in his triumphs. He sent money and returned there often to visit. A friend who many years ago had just earned his Masterís Degree with a critical analysis of the Paris Symphonies recalls making the pilgrimage to Rohrau and getting into conversation with another passenger on the bus who was describing the local memorabilia. She said, "We have a local favourite composer, his name was Haydn, but you, being from so far away, have probably never heard of him." My friend hastened to assure the lady that Haydnís name and music resounded gloriously throughout the world.

Haydnís symphonies have always been popular, but for a time his keyboard music, including his accompanied sonatas and trios, were not played, a circumstance happily no longer with us. I have not had the pleasure of hearing any of the earlier volumes in this series, but the trios on this disk are particularly interesting. Hob. XV:25 has as its final movement the famous Gypsy Rondo, also arranged by Haydn for piano solo. The trio Hob. XV:26 has as its slow movement the first version of the music that was to make up the slow movement in the Symphony #102. Popular literature has made much of the alleged but likely affair between Haydn and the widowed English pianist Rebecca Schroeter who was the dedicatee of these three 1794 trios. Haydn contributed to these speculations by attempting to Platonise the relationship, mis-stating the ladyís age as 60 (she was actually 40 when they met) in his later biography.

The Trios Hob. XV:31 and 32 are also interesting in that they are in two movements only (slow-fast, and fast-slow), while the majority of the trios are in three movements (fast-slow-fast).

The historical piano by Adlam is, typically of his instruments that I have heard, of a rich musical tone, and contributes by its playability to the facility of the performance. The artists are all very experienced in ensembles of various numbers, clearly love playing together, and produce a clear, blended sonority. These performances are very, very good, lacking only that final indefinable bit of sparkle that the very greatest performances (such as those listed at the top of this page) have. If this standard is maintained consistently throughout all the volumes of this collection, it would be surely the finest complete version to become currently available.

Paul Shoemaker

See also review by Johan van Veen

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