Joseph Haydn: Complete Piano Trios

By Eisler, Edith | Strings, April 2009 | Go to article overview
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Joseph Haydn: Complete Piano Trios


Eisler, Edith, Strings


Joseph Haydn: Complete Piano Trios. Haydn Trio Eisenstadt: Harald Kosik, piano; Verena Stourzh, violin; Hannes Gradwohl, cello. (Phoenix Music and Media, Vienna)

The year 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), a composer who occupies a special place in music history. Affectionately nicknamed "Papa Haydn," he was revered by his contemporaries, notably Mozart, but his influence on music and composition extended far beyond his own time. Haydn has been called the father of the classical symphony and string quartet, but he composed prolifically in every form and genre and was enormously innovative and versatile; the variety of his music never ceases to amaze.

The 39 piano trios recorded on this eight CD set are a substantial part of his voluminous chamber music. They were written at three different times: in the 1750s-60s in Vienna, in the 1780s at the Esterhazy estate in Eisenstadt, and in 1794-95 in London. In Haydn's time, good pianists outnumbered good string play- ers, so the piano predominates and the cello adds sonority by doubling the bass. In the earlier trios, the violin mainly supports and accompanies; later, it becomes increasingly independent and important. The familiar "London" trios have the greatest substance and emotional depth, but the less familiar ones also harbor priceless treasures.

The diversity of form, texture, character, and expression is extraordinary. These works are full of surprises, like deceptive cadences and recapitulations that are really second developments.

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