L'Arte dell'Arco

Haydn: Concertini and divertimenti for keyboard trio

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It's very hard from the cover to figure out what you're getting in this collection of pieces from the young Haydn, an original recording for the budget-minded Dutch label Brilliant. Just as Grape-Nuts contain neither grapes nor nuts, the promised concertini and divertimenti for piano trio (that's what the back cover says -- the front says "keyboard trio") are not for trio and do not involve a piano. Instead, as the listing of performers makes clear, the keyboard instrument heard here is a harpsichord, joined with two violins and a cello. The harpsichord is entirely appropriate for music written in the 1750s or 1760s. The music is pretty simple stuff, consisting of technically easy and structurally straightforward groups of three movements, generally beginning with one in moderate tempo. Orchestral performance, to judge from rarity of passages in which the violins play in unison, was apparently not envisioned. Haydn probably wrote these works for amateur nobles at Esterháza, and he knew his clientele and did not push them too hard. What's most interesting about these concertini and divertimenti (the terminology was in flux, and any of the 12 works could probably have been given either label) is that they were fresh in conception. The combination of two violins, cello, and keyboard was that of the Baroque trio sonata, but Haydn inverts it and gives the keyboard the lead role. In fact, it is dominant; there's nothing in the concertini to suggest he was trying to make them into little piano concertos. Instead, as the booklet notes (in English only) point out, you could omit the strings and still play most of these pieces. The performances by harpsichordist Roberto Loreggian and the string group L'arte dell'Arco properly put the harpsichordist front and center, and they give the music the plain and pleasant sound it may well have had when first played. Haydn completists will want this disc, for these pieces are not often recorded, and those in search of an hour of light chamber music in an unfamiliar grouping will also enjoy it.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concertino in C Hob. 14: 11
1 2:44
2 3:03
3 1:15
Concertino in C Hob. 14: 12
4 4:25
5 3:21
6 2:13
Concertino in G Hob. 14: 13
7 3:14
8 3:21
9 2:07
Concertino in F Hob. 18: F2
10 3:45
11 3:27
12 2:12
Divertimento in C Hob. 14: 4
13 3:43
14 3:14
15 2:46
Divertimento in C Hob. 14: 3
16 3:24
17 2:31
18 0:53
Divertimento in C Hob. 14: 7
19 3:16
20 2:38
21 1:46
Divertimento in F Hob. 14: 9
22 1:27
23 2:15
24 2:09
Divertimento in C Hob. 14: 8
25 3:18
26 3:06
27 1:46
Divertimento in C Hob. 14: C2
28 1:39
29 1:22
blue highlight denotes track pick