Vienna Piano Trio

Haydn: Piano Trios

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The trios for keyboard, violin, and cello from the first part of Haydn's career were essentially keyboard works with subsidiary (and even perhaps optional) violin and cello parts. Even when these trios were written, before and during Haydn's trips to London in the early 1790s, the composer wrote to a publisher offering "clavier sonatas accompanied by violin and cello," but by that time the concept, largely due to Haydn's own influence, had started to evolve. The roles of the instruments are closer to equal, and the ambitions of the music are weightier. This recording by the Vienna Piano Trio can be recommended to anyone wanting to expand a collection of Haydn's chamber music and who prefers the sound of a modern piano. The Piano Trio in G major, Hob. 15/25, is the lightest of the four works, but also contains the most famous music: the so-called Gypsy rondo finale, here given the title bestowed upon it by its original English publisher, "Rondo, in the Gipsies' style." It's more Hungarian than Romani, with strong overtones of the verbunkos military style in the rondo's C strain, and it's one of a small (but disputed) number of works in which influences from Haydn's Hungarian homeland show up in his music. The vigorous performance here is ideal, and the Vienna musicians are alert throughout to the issues Haydn's audiences would have noticed in the music: exotic shades, keyboard virtuosity (the difficulty level varies greatly according to dedicatee), and of course a great deal of irresistible wit, with all the jokes perfectly delivered here. The sound from the German audiophile label MDG is, if possible, even better than usual; it was recorded in an old monastery farmhouse.

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