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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809): "The London Trios"

Camerata Köln

rec: June 19 - 22, 2002, Cologne, Deutschlandfunk (Sendesaal)
CPO - 999 920-2 (© 2003) (70'49")

Andante con variazioni in G 'London Trio 2'(H IV,2)abd; Trio in D (H XV,16)ace; Trio in F (H XV,17)ace; Trio in G (H XV,15)ace; Trio in C 'London Trio 1' (H IV,1)abd; Trio in G 'London Trio 3' (H IV,3)abd; Trio in G 'London Trio 4' (H IV,4)abd

Karl Kaisera, Michael Schneiderb, transverse flute; Julianne Borsodic, Rainer Zipperlingd, cello; Sabine Bauer, fortepianoe

The second part of the 18th century saw an increasing popularity of the trio for keyboard and two melody instruments. In particular Joseph Haydn contributed considerably to the development of this genre with his trios for keyboard, violin and cello. Whereas in his early trios the violin has a relatively important part to play – Haydn usually played that part himself -, gradually the keyboard became the dominating instrument, reducing the violin and cello to merely accompanying roles.

Haydn composed only three trios for keyboard with flute and cello. In his chamber music the transverse flute doesn't play an important role anyway. The fact that most of his chamber music with flute is connected in one way or another with England is no coincidence. The flute was a very popular instrument there in the last decades of the century.

It was on request of the English publisher John Bland that Haydn composed the three trios recorded here. Although they are intended to be played by amateurs and are primarily diverting in character, they all contain some passages in a somewhat dark mood, and here and there one can even find moments of drama, like the general pause in the first movement of the Trio in D. There are some melancholic elements in the andante movements of the Trio in D and the Trio in G as well. The most cheerful of the three is the one Trio in F, whose entertaining character is reflected by the fact that it consists of only two movements - a feature of many diverting pieces in the classical period -, but even here the first movement contains less cheerful moments.

In general the interpretation by Camerata Köln is very good. The entertaining character comes through very well. I have the feeling, though, that the darker aspects are not fully exploited. The general pause in the first movement of the Trio in D could have been handled with a little more boldness, and I also think the dynamic contrasts could have been larger. And considering the fact that these trios have been composed for publication in England, and therefore primarily for English players, the use of a fortepiano with English action had been a more obvious choice than the copy of a Stein fortepiano which is used here.

The 'London Trios' for two flutes and cello were written during Haydn's second stay in England, and were intended to be played by two aristocrats who were avid flute players. They get the most important roles to play. These trios are characterised by a delightful interaction between the two flutes, and Michael Schneider and Karl Kaiser are most eloquent performers. The cello is reduced to a supporting role most of the time, but Rainer Zipperling makes the most of it.

In short, this is a fine recording of some very entertaining and at times compelling music. But then, how could Haydn ever disappoint? He once said: "In instrumental music my pure musical fantasies are usually given free rein". This disc is ample evidence of Haydn's inexhaustible musical fantasies.

Johan van Veen (© 2003)

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