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.