Grieg Trio

Haydn Piano Trios

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Joseph Haydn's piano trios are generally neglected, for the reason that many of them are little more than simple piano sonatas with violin and cello parts added to maximize the commercial potential for family music-making. The late ones, though, have more happening, especially in the piano parts. The ones written in London, for two talented female pianists (one of whom may have been Haydn's temporary squeeze), would certainly have been known to Beethoven, who went beyond them. But the Grieg Trio makes a case for these works in its own right. One movement from the Piano Trio in G major, Hob. 15/25, is a famous piece: the "gypsy" finale, which incorporates actual tunes of the Hungarian genre known as verbunkos. The Grieg players give it a lively and full-blooded performance. But the real attraction of these trios is the slow movements, wherein Haydn carried out some of the most daring harmonic experiments of his old age. Consider and sample the "Andante con moto" slow movement of the Piano Trio in E flat major, Hob. 15/30 (track 5), in C major (an extremely unorthodox choice to start with), as it winds into harmonies that otherwise lie more than a half-century in the future. The Grieg Trio lends full weight to these remarkable pieces, which deserve the deliberate treatment they get here: nothing is smoothed over. The church sound makes things a bit over-mystical: these pieces can stand up for themselves. But generally, this is a release that will nicely fill a hole in many Haydn collections.

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