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Hyperion Records

CDA67757 - Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 2
Jacob's Dream by Frans (II) Franken (1581-1642)
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain / Bridgeman Art Library, London
CDA67757
Recording details: February 2009
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2009
Total duration: 59 minutes 33 seconds

IRR 'OUTSTANDING AWARD

'The Florestans display their customary virtuosity, elegance and caprice in these outwardly easy-going works, once again capturing the full (and deceptively wide) emotional range of what may appear on the surface to be merely domestic entertainment music … a highlight of the year' (Gramophone)

'The Florestans … relish the degree to which Haydn constantly challenges his listeners with unexpected turns of phrase and audacious modulations … the first movement of Hob XV:30 is presented as a truly expansive Allegro moderato with bold dramatic gestures that project the work as almost Beethovenian in character … violinist Anthony Marwood shapes the expressive melody with almost Schubertian warmth … these warmly recorded performances offer plenty of musical insight and deserve a positive recommendation' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Haydn … would have admired Susan Tomes' quick wit and dexterity … this is Haydn stimulated by instrument and player into some of his most original music, obviously relishing the unusual textures, which are paid proper respect by the attentive recording as well as by the players … this is all brilliant ensemble playing by thoughtful and enthusiastic as well as skilful performers' (International Record Review)

'The Florestans play with a spring in their fingers Haydn's last four piano trios dating from the mid-1790s' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Susan Tomes is superb in these works; her fluid pianism is a joy to hear, beautiful in tone, crisp in articulation. Violinist Anthony Marwood and cellist Richard Lester are on her level, and the tightly knit ensemble delivers a full, rich sound along with lightning-fast reactions to Haydn’s many twists and turns' (La Folia, USA)

Piano Trios, Vol. 2
Allegro moderato  [7'25]
Allegretto  [3'16]
Finale: Allegro  [4'46]
Poco allegretto  [7'19]
Allegro moderato  [8'45]
Andante con moto  [4'21]
Presto  [3'13]
Andante  [8'46]

Haydn’s ‘piano trios’ (as his accompanied piano sonatas are known) are among the most delightful and inventive of all his works. They have a ‘domestic’ reputation, and indeed they were intended for playing at home. But we make a mistake if we think that this meant that Haydn expected music-making of limited accomplishment. Many outstanding musicians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries never performed in public for one simple reason: they were women. Who knows how many gifted women musicians were denied opportunities that their male counterparts enjoyed. But when it comes to pianists, we can at least get some idea of their talents from the music that was written for them.

Among the women pianists whom Haydn met while he was in London in the 1790s, one of the most highly-regarded was Therese Jansen, a pupil of Clementi. Haydn named her as among the capital’s most important pianists. Haydn wrote for her a set of three piano trios which were published in London in 1797—Hob XV:28 and 29 on this disc, and No 27 in C major (on Hyperion CDA67719). The challenging piano parts suggests that she must have been a very fine performer—and indeed the string-writing is no less demanding. They are not only virtuoso works, but have an exceptionally wide range of expression.

The Florestan Trio, with their magnificent pianist Susan Tomes, dazzle in this repertoire. Their first disc of Haydn’s piano trios was enthusiastically acclaimed (see below) and this release is sure to follow its critical and commercial success.


Other recommended albums
'Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 1' (CDA67719)
Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 1
'Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 3' (CDA67520)
Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 3
'Mozart: Piano Trios K502,542,564' (CDA67556)
Mozart: Piano Trios K502,542,564
'Saint-Saëns: Piano Trios' (CDA67538)
Saint-Saëns: Piano Trios
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 20-bit 44.1 kHz £7.45ALAC 20-bit 44.1 kHz £7.45 CDA67538  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Rubinstein & Scharwenka: Piano Concertos' (CDA67508)
Rubinstein & Scharwenka: Piano Concertos
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 48 kHz £7.85ALAC 24-bit 48 kHz £7.85 CDA67508  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the late eighteenth century, as the piano became more popular in well-to-do homes, there developed a thriving market in ‘accompanied sonatas’, works for pianists to play, accompanied by their friends or servants on violin and cello. Of the many composers who supplied this demand, Haydn was by far the most distinguished, and his piano trios (as we now call them) are among the most delightful and inventive of all his works. They were intended for playing at home. But we make a mistake if we think that this meant that Haydn expected music-making of limited accomplishment. Many outstanding musicians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries never performed in public for one simple reason: they were women. Those who composed might or might not have their work preserved, let alone published. Mozart’s sister Nannerl, for example, was described as a remarkable pianist and composer, but none of her work survives. Who knows how many gifted women musicians were denied opportunities that their male counterparts enjoyed. But when it comes to pianists, we can at least get some idea of their talents from the music that was written for them.

Among the women pianists whom Haydn met while he was in London in the 1790s, one of the most important was Therese Jansen, a German from Aachen who was brought to settle in London by her father, a dancing master. In London she and her brother studied the piano with Clementi, and Therese became one of his best pupils. Haydn met her during his visits to London, and named her among the capital’s most important pianists. When she married Gaetano Bartolozzi, an art dealer, Haydn was a witness at their wedding. Although she did not pursue a public career, Clementi and Dussek both dedicated works to her, and Haydn wrote for her a set of three piano trios which were published in London in 1797—Hob XV:28 and 29 on this disc, and No 27 in C major (on Hyperion CDA67719). The challenging piano parts suggest that she must have been a very fine performer.

The trios on this CD are Haydn’s last, but their exact order of composition is uncertain. Robbins Landon presumed that the Trio in E flat, No 29, was probably Haydn’s final word in this genre. More recently, scholars have opted for No 30 as the most likely candidate.

Of the set of three trios dedicated to Therese Jansen-Bartolozzi, the Trio in E major Hob XV:28 is not only a virtuoso work, but also has an exceptionally wide range of expression. The first movement opens with an extraordinary and delicate effect: pizzicato strings with a staccato bass in the piano, while the pianist’s right hand plays a flowing melody ornamented with grace-notes. It evokes the effect of a folk-song in which the singer accompanies herself on the harp. When the pianist repeats this tune with chromatic decoration, it is as if a ‘real’ piano has answered. Energetic rushing scales break the spell, vying with more lyrical phrases until a pause is reached, and the folk-tune returns. Again this is interrupted, and the mood for the rest of the opening section is characteristically witty and good-humoured. The development discusses a selection of the elements that have already appeared, including a version of the folk-tune enlarged to sound more like a chorale. Throughout the movement Haydn makes full use of the capabilities of the English grand pianos—Mrs Bartolozzi must certainly have owned one.

The Allegretto could not be a greater contrast to the first movement. In E minor, it has a continuous creeping bass-line, rather as in a baroque passacaglia. At first all three instruments state the bass together in octaves. Then the piano continues with the line in the bass, while singing an almost operatic melody above it. But this is no ordinary passacaglia: the bass winds its way, evolving and moving from key to key, until it arrives in G major. Here the stringed instruments join in, and the piano’s melody develops an obsession with a dotted-rhythm figure. This leads to a forceful reprise of the melody with which the piano solo began, but now in the bass, with the passacaglia line above. The movement ends with a series of cadenza-like flourishes. The shape of the whole movement is similar to some of J S Bach’s slow movements—such as those in the Italian Concerto and the violin concertos—but with a new dramatic dimension.

The finale is also full of surprises. The opening theme has quirky phrasing which keeps on subverting the three-in-a-bar metre, and just when you expect the first strain to end after a conventional eight bars, it meanders on for an extra four. In the middle section of the movement, the violin strikes off on its own, in E minor. Then, in a passage which must have seemed outrageous to Haydn’s contemporaries, the music slips sideways into the remote key of E flat minor, before thinking better of it and returning to E minor to finish the section. The quirky opening theme returns at the end, twice interrupted by chromatic moments, as if it wishes to return to the slow movement, before two chords bring the work emphatically to a close.

The last of the set for Therese Jansen-Bartolozzi, the Trio in E flat major Hob XV:29, is a work full of character and humour. The first movement is like a march, but with an almost mock-ecclesiastical air, and with its dignity punctuated by sudden accents and flourishes. A middle section moves into the minor, and becomes more serious and lyrical, allowing the violin to expand with a melody of its own. When the march returns, it is subjected to Haydn’s favourite variation techniques. The decoration becomes more and more elaborate, moving further and further from the mock-simplicity of the original. Just when the march seems to have run its course, Haydn adds a substantial coda, in which the music is pulled towards a remote and strange area, before recovering itself for a final show of self-confidence. For the slow movement, Haydn shifts down a major third to B major. The gently rocking, expansive melody gives the impression that Haydn might be settling down to quite a long movement—as Beethoven had done in his recently published Op 1 piano trios. But all of a sudden he takes a turn back by a subtle succession of modulations to the trio’s opening key of E flat, and the piano launches unexpectedly into the finale. This a triple-time ‘German Dance’. At first its mood is genial, but there are moments of truculent stamping, and suggestions of gypsy fiddles and a hurdy-gurdy. A central episode explores some of the dance’s motifs in a surprisingly serious manner. And even when the main theme returns, there are several sudden changes of direction, mood-swings, and further elaborations, before Haydn brings the dance to an end with a final twist of the hurdy-gurdy.

Despite its position in Hoboken’s catalogue the Trio in E flat major Hob XV:30 is now thought likely to be the last piano trio that Haydn composed. On 9 November 1796 he wrote to the publisher Breitkopf that he was sending the promised sonata ‘at last’. In the event, it was Artaria in Vienna who published the first edition, in 1797. This work was not dedicated to a particular pianist, and the level of difficulty of the piano part is noticeably less extreme than in the trios written for known virtuosi, though still with some tricky passages, and showing Haydn’s usual high level of imagination.

The opening theme is unusually expansive for Haydn, and rather reminiscent of the beginning of Mozart’s second piano quartet K493, in the same key. And, like Mozart, Haydn pours out an unusually large number of different ideas, and takes them in unexpected directions. There are two quite separate themes before we have left E flat major. And then, where a sudden chromatic shifting of keys leads us to expect the second main theme, Haydn instead returns to his first idea, and develops it further in B flat major. From there he moves gently into B flat minor, and at last we do get a new theme; though this too is derived from a phrase earlier in the movement. The development begins with a much more Haydnesque surprise, a sudden lurch into C flat major. Here the first two ideas are subjected to some informal counterpoint before the piano launches into running passages, over a chord sequence that gradually brings us closer to the home key. But instead of leading seamlessly back to E flat, as Mozart would probably have done, Haydn presents us with another harmonic surprise to get us back to the home key for the reprise.

The slow movement, in three-time, has the tread and formality of a courtly dance in C major, with its two parts repeated. Then a middle section forgets the dance, becoming animated and conversational. It is the piano that calls the instruments back to the solemnity of the dance, and it recommences as if nothing had interrupted it. But almost immediately the animated running scales of the middle section break through, and the dance is once again forgotten. There is another moment when the dance is recalled, leading to a pause on a chord of G major as if we are about to return to the dance proper. But instead, Haydn launches straight back to E flat, and into the finale. This too is a dance in three-time, but fast, with a frequent off-beat ‘kick’ and an insistent character that makes it sound rather like Beethoven. A middle section takes us into a brusque E flat minor, with a yet more insistent motif. At the end of this section, Haydn returns to E flat major not by the obvious route, simply moving from minor to major, but on a detour via B major. The music could be heading almost anywhere, but suddenly we turn a corner and find ourselves back at the opening theme. With a boisterous conclusion, Haydn bids farewell to the ‘accompanied piano sonata’. Other composers continued to supply the market for this popular genre for some years to come. But by the time Haydn wrote this last example, his pupil Beethoven had published his three piano trios Op 1, and the ensemble of piano, violin and cello had been set on a dramatically new path into the nineteenth century.

The Trio in E flat minor Hob XV:31 consists of only two movements, which were composed in reverse order. On a surviving autograph of this trio, the first movement is dated 1795, but the second movement is dated a year earlier. The opening Andante is in the unusual key of E flat minor, a sombre rondo with striking use of chords in the bass register of the piano—a region Haydn had come to appreciate on the sonorous English instruments he encountered in London. An episode in E flat major turns the theme upside down, decorating it into a charming fantasia. After the return of the opening, there follows a second episode which transports us surprisingly to the key of B major. Here the violin breaks loose from the piano and soars off into a Schubertian melody (it is partly the change of key, down a major third, which makes it sound Schubertian). Then, in a final reprise, violin and piano join forces again in a rather agitated version of the rondo theme, elaborated in a triplet rhythm.

After the liberation of the first movement, the violin never looks back. But the reason is partly to be found in the origin of the second movement, which Haydn wrote first. This jaunty Allegro in E flat major has in the autograph a heading which Haydn later scratched out: ‘Sonata Jacob’s Dream by Dr Haydn’. This refers to a story in the Book of Genesis, in which Jacob sleeps: ‘And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.’ Perhaps Haydn deleted the title because he feared that it might be thought inappropriate to give a religious reference to what was, in origin, a practical joke. Albert Christoph Dies, who interviewed the composer several times in his old age and published Biographical Accounts of Joseph Haydn in 1810, tells us that in London Haydn got to know a German violinist ‘who had acquired the technique almost of a virtuoso; but had the terrible habit of spending a lot of time stumbling about in the highest register. Haydn decided to make an attempt to put the amateur off his atrocious habit’. According to Dies, Haydn sent ‘Jacob’s Dream’ anonymously to Therese Jansen, who tried it out with the German violinist, with hilarious consequences. Haydn had peppered the movement with virtuoso violin writing, echoing the virtuosity of the piano part, and ending with passages that are both high and impossibly fast. The two movements of the Trio were unpublished for several years, but eventually appeared in print in Vienna in 1803, with a dedication to Magdalena von Kurzböck, an admired Viennese pianist and composer.

Robert Philip © 2009


Other albums in this series
'Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 1' (CDA67719)
Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 1
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