HAYDN Piano Trios: in Eb, Hob XV:30; in C, Hob XV:27; in E, Hob XV:28; in Eb, Hob XV:29 • Kungsbacka Pn Tr • NAXOS 8.572062 (66:59)
This is Volume 2 of the Kungsbacka Trio’s Haydn piano trio series. Volume 1 was reviewed approvingly by James H. North in FanfareRead more 35:3. Just to clarify where things stand, Volume 1 contained trios 38, 39, 40, and 41. The current volume contains the trios 42, 43, 44, and 45. Having reached the last of the four numbered trios, the Kungsbacka now has nowhere to go but backwards, assuming this is to be a complete cycle and not just the final batch of trios Haydn wrote between 1795 and 1797.
Though I missed Volume 1 when it came out, previous encounters with the Kungsbacka ensemble—Mozart piano trios in 32:5 and 32:6, and Chopin’s piano trio in 35:5—have been uniformly favorable. This is a modern-instrument group that approaches Mozart and Haydn with a strong sense of historical practices and period style, and then turns its attention to Chopin with equal awareness of early romantic manners.
By this late date, Haydn’s piano-trio writing is marked by greater independence of the cello part, fuller textures, and more extensive development of thematic and motivic material. And, as always with Haydn, the music bursts at the seams with tuneful invention and spirited, playful fun. Yet at approximately the same time that Haydn was producing these late trios—two years earlier, actually—Beethoven had completed his three op. 1 piano trios, dedicating them to his early patron, Prince Carl von Lichnowski. Listening to Beethoven’s trios after Haydn’s is like crossing the Rubicon. Suddenly, one is in new and different surroundings.
Haydn’s piano trios, as amiable, charming, and persuasive as they are, belong to the old order of a different world. Beethoven arrives on the scene all shock and awe, even his earliest published works, the op. 1 piano trios, ushering in an era of revolution, upheaval, turmoil, and chaos. As I listen to these Haydn trios, I think to myself, “Enjoy the civility and decorum while you can, for they’re about to be swept away.”
In terms of stylish playing and recorded sound, the Kungsbacka Piano Trio easily rivals the Beaux Arts classic 1970s Haydn piano-trio cycle for Philips, which has long resided on my shelf. For those who prefer to hear these wonderful works on modern instruments, but in performances that recognize and respect historical practices, the Kungsbacka’s Haydn is, for me, the Haydn of choice.
Good StuffAugust 5, 2012By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"This is the second volume in Naxos' developing series of Haydn piano trios. Like Vol. 1, the disk contains late trios and (again like Vol.1) all are superbly performed by the Kungsbacka Piano Trio. This gentle disk can be enjoyed either for serious listening or as superb background music while you are reading the newspaper. Recommended for lovers of light chamber music."Report Abuse