Haydn Trio Eisenstadt

Haydn: Piano Chamber Music

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This two-disc set from Austria's Haydn Trio Eisenstadt may come as a surprise to listeners who didn't know that Haydn wrote any piano chamber music, and the booklet notes go into a largely pointless exercise attempting to classify these pieces as piano trios, quartets, and in one case a quintet, and to distinguish the trio concertini from the divertimenti. For one thing, the concertini and divertimenti had various names at the time. And the biggest problem with the whole concept here is that a piano was the farthest thing from Haydn's mind here: with the exception of the two-movement Sonata for piano and violin in G major, H. 15/32, these are pieces from early in Haydn's career. They would all have been written for a harpsichord. There's nothing wrong with using a piano, but the point is that they all come from the transitional stage in which the Baroque trio sonata became mixed with the incipient solo and accompanied sonatas of the Classical period. Most of them put the piano in the dominant role, but the degree varies. Those designated here as concertini have a fast-slow-fast movement structure; the divertimenti have minuets in the middle, with zippy finales that carry the distinctive Haydn stamp. Especially intriguing is the Finale -- Scherzo designation of the last movement of the Divertimento in C major, Hob. 14/8 (CD 2, track 9). The Quintet in E flat, Hob. 14/1, on the first disc, with its pair of horns, is also interesting for its sheer uniqueness; the balance among the five instruments is carefully controlled here. This is music Haydn wrote to pay the bills. These pieces for the most part haven't been recorded often, for they're rather thin on the whole. Signs of Haydn's emerging personality and of his instinct for clarifying the forms he inherited are here and there, however. For large Haydn collections, if the listener is OK with the piano, this is a reasonable choice; the sound, recorded right at Esterházy castle, is clear and unobjectionable.

blue highlight denotes track pick