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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Divertimentos (String Trios) - Volume 3

No. 14 in D. Major, Hob. V:15 [10:45]
No. 15 in C Major, Hob. V: 16 [15:57]
No. 16 in E-flat major, Hob. V: 18 [14:25]
No. 17 in B. Flat Major, Hob. V: 18 [14:12]
No. 18 in E Major, Hob. V: 19 [14:50]
Wiener Philharmonia Trio (Piter Wächter (violin), Tomáö Vinklát (violin), Tamáö Varga (cello))
rec.: Studio Baumgarten, Vienna, 20-21 February 2003.
CAMERATA CM-28043 [72:26]

Haydnís String Trios were written in the 1750s and 1760s, precise dating being more or less impossible. Some 21 are now regarded as authentic. In the early sources, individual works are often described as "notturnos" or "cassations". When Haydn began to compile a catalogue of his own works, around 1765, he referred to them as "divertimentos". It was some years after Haydnís death that the works were first perceived as a group and described as String Trios. In modern times they have often been spoken of as chiefly of interest for the role they played, seen retrospectively, in preparing Haydn for the composition of his mature string quartets. Robbins Landon writes that "the firm hand, the assured manner, of the quartets is largely the result of experimentation within the string trio form". Robbins Landon is careful, however, not to let such claims distract from the distinctive merits of the trios themselves, a misjudgement which others have not always avoided.

All of the trios recorded here are made up of three movements. Nos. 14 and 18 grow from the Corellian example of the sonata da chiesa, beginning with a slow movement in each case (Adagio), followed by an Allegro and a Minuet. Nos. 15 and 16 begin with an Allegro, follow it by a Minuet and close with a Presto. No. 17 has a first movement marked Moderato, succeeded by a Minuet and a Presto. Given these changing sequences of tempo and the range of keys employed, this programme has more variety than might at first appear.

Haydnís adagios abound in beautiful, flowing melodies and his allegros are ceaselessly inventive. His formal inventiveness is remarkable. No doubt these trios lack the emotional weight of some of Haydnís later work, but they compensate for this by the serious graciousness of their movement and instrumental interplay, and by a kind of constantly bubbling and joyful fertility of ideas. Particular pleasures include the variations which make up the closing Presto of No. 17 and the wistful adagio which opens No. 14. But every one of the movements in these Trios has rewards to offer.

They are played here with both delicacy and strength. The Wiener Philharmonia Trio sound utterly at home with the music, persuasively articulating both its dance rhythms and its elegance, its formal variety and its unpretentious intelligence. Their performances are a delight, the recorded sound all that it needs to be. Sadly, I havenít heard the two previous volumes in their set of the Divertimentos; listening to this third volume has made me very eager to hear its two predecessors.

Any listener who doesnít know these string trios is urged to make their acquaintance. Anyone who is fond of the early quartets will surely find much to admire and enjoy in these trios.

Glyn Pursglove



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