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Hyperion Records

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Jacob's Dream by Frans (II) Franken (1581-1642)
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from 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: 12 minutes 16 seconds

'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 Trio in E flat minor, Hob XV:31
first movement 1795; second movement 1794; first published in Vienna in 1803 with a dedication to Magdalena von Kurzböck

Andante  [8'46]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
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.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2009

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