Pasa Tem­pos

Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER - — James M. Keller

Franz Joseph Haydn’s Pi­ano Trios; Ad­vance Base’s An­i­mal Com­pan­ion­ship

Pi­ano Trios (Har­mo­nia Mundi) When Franz Joseph Haydn be­gan fo­cus­ing on the genre of the pi­ano trio, such pieces were tech­ni­cally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally un­de­mand­ing ba­gatelles crafted for at-home en­ter­tain­ment among the mid­dle and up­per classes. Haydn changed that. His ap­prox­i­mately 45 pi­ano trios ba­si­cally de­fined the group­ing as a cen­tral medium of cham­ber mu­sic, es­pe­cially through the bril­liant ex­am­ples he pro­duced dur­ing the 1790s. The Trio Wan­derer, one of the world’s lead­ing self-stand­ing pi­ano trios, of­fers fine read­ings of five of those ma­ture works (Hob. XV/14, 18, 21, 26, and 31). The en­sem­ble is most as­so­ci­ated with 19th-cen­tury mu­sic, and these in­ter­pre­ta­tions do seem to ap­proach Haydn’s trios from that di­rec­tion, find­ing in them proto-Ro­man­tic ex­pres­sive pos­si­bil­i­ties. Their read­ings don’t turn their back on wit and hu­mor, which are built into so much of Haydn, but here those qual­i­ties are con­cen­trated al­most ex­clu­sively in the fi­nales, most en­dear­ingly in the Presto of the C-ma­jor Trio. If you’re prin­ci­pally look­ing for laughs, this may not be the record­ing for you; on the other hand, it re­veals depths not uni­ver­sally imag­ined in these pieces. The group’s se­ri­ous, shad­owy ap­proach is es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive in the slow move­ments — the An­dante of the A-ma­jor Trio is a marvel that here looks ahead to Schu­bert — and in the two of their se­lec­tions set in mi­nor keys, par­tic­u­larly the in­tense Trio in F-sharp mi­nor.

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