WORKS: Piano Trios in A, Hob XV:9; in E flat, Hob XV:10; in G, Hob XV:25; in E flat, Hob XV:11 & in E minor, Hob XV:12
PERFORMER: Tini Mathot (fortepiano), Andrew Manze (violin), Jaap ter Linden (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-91728-2 DDD
The bulk of Haydn’s 29 piano trios were written when he was well into his fifties, at a time when the genre was particularly popular both with professionals and with the amateurs for whom he wrote them. They display a rich inventiveness, the quicker movements full of zest, the slower ones often powerfully dramatic. Properly, the keyboard instrument should be a fortepiano, with a light, responsive action, leather-headed hammers and two strings to a note. Frequently it dominates the texture. The cello sometimes just doubles the pianist’s bass line, but often it has an independent part to play.
These are period performances. Mathot’s fortepiano is a replica of a Stein instrument familiar in Haydn’s day, Manze’s violin was made by Gagliano of Naples in 1782 and Linden’s cello dates from c1720.
The first movement of No. 9 is rather laboured and earthbound, while the cellist’s intonation in the Tempo di menuetto of No. 11 is not always spot on. There are embarrassing smudges against the pianist’s bass line. Nor is the ensemble faultless in parts of the ‘Gipsy Rondo’ which concludes No. 25. In short, the general spirit is right, but there are too many warts for praise to be unqualified. Wadham Sutton