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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
The Bartolozzi Trios
Piano Trio in C major Hob. XV:27 (1795? Pub.1797) [17:20]
Piano Trio in E major Hob. XV:28 (1795? Pub.1797) [16:29]
Piano Trio in E-flat major Hob. XV:28 (1795? Pub.1797) [16:23]
Trio Viennarte (Veronika Schulz, violin; Julia Schreyvogel, cello; Maria Rom, piano)
rec. Sender Freies Berlin, Studio III, April 2000. DDD.
Experience Classicsonline

It is understandable that Haydn’s Piano Trios should be less well known than his symphonies and string quartets, but there is much fine music to enjoy here and no sense that these are minor products of the master’s workshop.  They are, indeed, mature works dating from around 1795, during the second London visit which produced his last six symphonies and I am surprised that Naxos have not yet added them to their extensive Haydn repertoire.  (Jenö Jandó et al?)
These trios are intimate in style, dedicated to Therese Bartolozzi, née Jansen, a student of Clementi, to whom Haydn’s last three piano sonatas were also dedicated.  Both the trios and the sonatas may have been a wedding present.  The description of these three trios as ‘Bartolozzi’ Trios is a little fanciful, but grounded in historical fact – and it always helps for musical works to have a nickname.
The lively playing of the opening Allegro of No.27 in bright, immediate sound, creates a good impression and sets the tone for an enjoyable set of performances.  The piano is dominant within the sound picture, but these are very much piano trios, much less an equal partnership than the genre would assume in later hands.  That the violin and cello sound almost squashed at times is not inappropriate to their roles in the music.  The brief sample of this opening track available on Trio Viennarte’s website gives a good indication of its qualities.
The notes refer to the technical demands which these works place upon the pianist, demands to which Maria Rom is fully equal.  She is well supported by Veronika Schulz and Julia Schreyvogel, who never try to get ‘above’ the parts to which Haydn has allotted them.  The Trio Viennarte was formed in 1996 according to the notes, so I am surprised that the same notes attribute to them a recording of Beethoven and Brahms in 1990 – six years before they teamed up!  (The German notes and Trio Viennarte’s own website reveal the true date to be 1998.)
The notes are valuable, though they do not offer any analysis of the individual trios.  The English translation is fully comprehensible, though a little stilted at times.  The English reader could, I suppose, be expected to guess that C-Dur and E-Dur are C major and E major, but not that Es-Dur, which is nowhere translated, is E-flat major.
The brisk performance of the opening allegro of No.27 is followed by a performance of the andante which I thought a little rushed.  Though the playing is lyrical, I should have liked a little more made of the affective element of this movement: the noticeable change in tempo before the meditative section towards the end registers as a rather awkward gear-change.  A lively account of the presto Finale rounds off a generally enjoyable performance of this trio.
No.28 is a less exuberant work and it receives a performance to match.  The slow, tentative opening of the first movement is well captured: Haydn marks this allegro moderato, and the performers observe the moderato as well as the allegro, without making the music sound dull or uninteresting – this is a lyrical rather than a virtuoso performance, totally in keeping with the music.  The allegretto second movement is played with soul, perhaps, a little too soulfully, as if making up for the slight lack of this quality in the corresponding movement of No.27.  The movement begins as a piano solo, with later ‘comments’ from the violin and cello.  The lively finale is not too hectic, rounding off a good performance of this trio.  Placing the three works in Hoboken order, with the less well-known and less extrovert No.28 in the middle, between the two livelier pieces, works very well.  Nos.27 and 29 are heard not infrequently at the Wigmore Hall and on BBC Radio 3, but I don’t believe I have ever heard No.28 before; I was pleased to make its acquaintance, though its less immediate appeal explains its comparative neglect.
The jaunty opening of No.29 is well captured.  Violin and cello are allowed greater prominence here and they rise to the occasion.  The recording, too, places them more firmly on the sound stage than in the other works.  The slow movement is played suitably innocentemente.  The finale is a parody of a German dance as performed by a less than accomplished band of musicians.  The parody is similar to that of Mozart’s Musical Joke, though more subtle than the Mozart.  The performers here do not overdo the joke, bringing a lively end to a generally very enjoyable set of performances.
If, like me, you hadn’t come across the Campanella Musica label before, a little information from their website will not come amiss:
Campanella Musica is a label specializing in chamber music with the musicians being the publishers themselves: excellent artists create their own productions, personally responsible for every aspect of artistic and economic competence. Under the roof of “Campanella Musica” they participate in the distribution of a very small and exclusive CD series which aims to present artistic profiles in a compact programmatic context.
The presentation of their CDs is also somewhat special, though the blurb on the website over-eggs the pudding a little with its reference to the employment of the “finest artistry of bookbinding: elaborate handwork creates small book wrappers which form the case of the CD.”  The general feel of the presentation is substantial, though the CD fits very tightly into its home in the right-hand part of the gatefold – so tightly that scratching may become a problem if the disc is not carefully extracted.
At 50 minutes, this recording is rather poor value – a fourth trio could easily have been added.  A rival version on Arte Nova at bargain price contains the three Trios on the Campanella recording plus No.30 (Ensemble Trazom, 74321 92814 2).  This looks like excellent value, but has apparently never been reviewed by Musicweb or elsewhere.
The classic Beaux Arts Trio set of all the Haydn Piano Trios remains supreme – Phillips 454 098-2, but not everyone will want a 9-CD set for an outlay of around £50. 
My colleague GPu gave a warm welcome to a 4-CD bargain-price set of half of Haydn’s Piano Trios, containing two of the Trios on the new recording (Capriccio CC49489 – see review).   At around £19 in the UK, this is better value than the Beaux Arts set.  He anticipated welcoming the second volume, containing the remaining Trios but, in the event, it appears to have been deleted almost as soon as it was issued.  (CAP49571, released as recently as September 2007, so some dealers may still have copies).
I am puzzled why a recording made in 2000 is only now being made generally available, since anyone looking for a single CD of Haydn’s Piano Trios could do much worse than this new Campanella Musica CD.
Brian Wilson


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