Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809)
Baryton Divertimenti - Volume 1
Trio in A (H XI,35) [9:10]
Trio in D (H XI,97) [22:25]
Trio in G (H XI,124) [13:04]
Trio in a minor (H XI,87) [13:09]
Trio in C (H XI,101) [9:13]
The Esterházy Machine (Kenneth Slowik (baryton); Steven Dann (viola);
Myron Lutzke (cello))
rec. 15-17 October 2004, Dekelboum Concert Hall of the Clarice Smith Performing
Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. DDD
SMITHSONIAN FRIENDS OF MUSIC FOM 36-811 [66:53]
This recording dates from 2004 and was only released six years later. One wonders
why it has been on the shelf for so many years. The reason could be that at
the time of the recording no record company saw a market for this repertoire.
It is true that for many years very little attention was paid to the Baryton
trios by Haydn. The commemoration of his death in 2009 seems to have changed
that. Brilliant Classics released a complete recording of all the music with
baryton which Haydn has written. From that year up until now various discs with
music for baryton have appeared. If you search "baryton" on this site you will
find several reviews of such discs.
Haydn's large production in this department is completely due to his employer's
fascination for the instrument. Although his playing capabilities were limited
his demand for new music was insatiable. Haydn was one of the musicians at his
court who was expected to provide him with compositions. In order to serve him
to the best of his abilities Haydn learned to play the baryton himself. During
his time in Esterháza he produced more than 170 pieces with a part for
the baryton. Among them are 123 trios for baryton, viola and cello. Obviously
the barytone plays the leading role in these trios but that doesn't mean that
the other two instruments are reduced to an accompanying role. In his liner-notes
Kenneth Slowik rightly points out that "[the] ranges of the three instruments
overlap considerably, making it possible for each to play, in rapid alternation,
the melody, the accompaniment, or the bass line". It leads to a very particular
sound, with the various lines closely interwoven.
These trios belong to the same genre as the many divertimenti of the time. But
Haydn's diverting music is always more than just easy listening stuff. He has
the unique ability to mix entertainment, wit and depth in one single piece.
The latter quality is mainly represented by the slow movements which often take
more than half of the time of the whole piece. On this disc that is the case
with the opening moderato from the Trio in G and the adagio from the
Trio in a minor. Lasting more than 8 minutes the adagio cantabile from
the Trio in D is also by far the longest of the seven movements. This
is a composition of a special character, since it was written for the birthday
of his employer. Here we also find the combination of wit and depth, the former
being represented by the polonaise, the latter by the adagio and the closing
fugue. One doesn't find often a fugue in diverting music, but Haydn used it
more than once. The Trio in C ends with a fuga a 3 soggetti in contrapunto
doppio. One can't help feeling that this is an expression of Haydn's sense
of humour as well.
All the qualities of Haydn's Baryton trios are conveyed by these three artists.
Their playing is very relaxed and smooth, but in no way superficial. The depth
of the slow movements is fully explored, and so is the humor and wit. The recording
has a great amount of intimacy which suits this repertoire perfectly. The programme
is nicely put together, combining two of the best-known trios (97, 101) with
the lesser-known Trios 35 and 124. If you don't know Haydn's Baryton trios yet,
this disc offers an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with them. As this
disc is presented as Volume 1 I look forward to the next volumes.
Johan van Veen
An excellent opportunity to get acquainted with Haydn's baryton trios.