HAYDN Piano Trios (Trio Wanderer)
Five Haydn piano trios trace a passage from light to darkness – well, almost. The Trio Wanderer open with the serious (and seriously underrated) A flat major (No 14) and finish up with two of the most profound of all these works, those in F sharp major and E flat minor (Nos 26 and 31), in between skipping through the highest of Haydn’s jinks in the A and C major Trios (Nos 18 and 21).
These are beautifully played performances, set in a generous enough acoustic (the Teldex Studio in Berlin) to give each instrument full voice: the pizzicato accompaniment to the piano’s cantilena in No 14, for example, is pleasingly plump. There is enough clarity around each instrument to make every line audible, which hasn’t necessarily been the case in the Wanderer’s previous recordings of Romantic music, although the sparer textures of the Classical trio style help greatly in this respect.
Favourite moments: the whipcrack finales of the two ‘lighter’ works (Nos 18 and 21), played with a natural élan that can’t fail to raise a smile. Also the cantabile piano line in the central slow movement of No 26 – adapted either from or into the Adagio of Symphony No 102, where the melody is tellingly transferred to the cello – played here with an ecstatic freedom of pulse by Vincent Coq. The disc closes on a hopeful note, with the ‘Jacob’s Dream’ Allegro of the bipartite E flat minor forming the ideal foil to the austerity of its opening movement.
This is the Wanderer’s return to Haydn on disc after a gap of a decade and a half. The late Duncan Druce remarked of their first Haydn disc (Harmonia Mundi, 5/02) that ‘it’s a treat to hear Haydn trios played with such care for their sound and texture’. The same holds true today; and please, let’s not be made to wait until 2034 for the third volume!