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.
from notes by Robert Philip © 2009