Haydn Piano Trios Vol. 1
Over a decade ago, Susan Tomes said, “I don’t think recording is compatible with being musically profound”. Might it have contributed to a degree of detachment that surfaced intermittently? Perhaps; but here Tomes and her partners identify themselves fully with the emotional scale of these works, ostensibly meant for domestic use on small pianos. But their scope suggests that Haydn structured them for the powerful English Broadwood instruments suited to the concert hall. The noise-quelling opening chord of No 24 would have stopped rowdy audiences of the day in their tracks.
There is so much from the Florestan to stop us in our tracks too, not least in their feel for expressing the content of these sparsely marked scores, as in the finale of No 24 when Allegro ma dolce in D major changes to a stabbing D minor before returning to the original key. The musicians intuitively recreate the return even more sweetly. Their interpretative acumen is unimpeachable. The continuous triplets in the Adagio of No 26, tiresome if badly played, are instead profoundly yielding. And the Presto finale of No 27 isn’t driven on cruise control. A thought: Mary Hunter (Bowdoin College) argues that while “the quartets highlight the wit of the composer, the trios highlight the comic or capricious potential of the act of performance” – that is, they offer performers opportunities to decorate fermatas elaborately and create an improvisatory feel at ornamental cadences. The Florestan don’t fully concur. Nonetheless, this is a very special disc, recorded in detailed, front-row sound.