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List: Early Keyboard Trios
Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Nationality: Austrian
Born: March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria Died: May 31, 1809, Vienna (age 77)

Piano Trio No. 25 in e minor, Op. 57, No. 2, Hob. XV:12

(for violin, cello and piano)
7:48 I. Allegro moderato
5:20 II. Andante
4:25 III. Rondo. Presto
Duration: 18 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1788-1789 (age 55-57)
Published: 1789, Vienna: Artaria (age 56-57)
6 recordings, 18 videos
autoopen autoplay
6:47
Jorja Fleezanis, Laurence Lesser, Derek Han
I. Allegro moderato
4:44
Jorja Fleezanis, Laurence Lesser, Derek Han
II. Andante
4:54
Jorja Fleezanis, Laurence Lesser, Derek Han
III. Rondo. Presto
9:56
Cristofori Trio
I. Allegro moderato
4:54
Cristofori Trio
II. Andante
4:39
Cristofori Trio
III. Rondo. Presto
9:56
Bartolozzi Trio
I. Allegro moderato
5:50
Bartolozzi Trio
II. Andante
4:03
Bartolozzi Trio
III. Rondo. Presto
9:05
Van Swieten Trio
I. Allegro moderato
4:55
Van Swieten Trio
II. Andante
4:27
Van Swieten Trio
III. Rondo. Presto
6:23
Mendelssohn Piano Trio
I. Allegro moderato
5:11
Mendelssohn Piano Trio
II. Andante
4:25
Mendelssohn Piano Trio
III. Rondo. Presto
5:27
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
I. Allegro moderato
5:56
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
II. Andante
4:16
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
III. Rondo. Presto
From Kai Christiansen

Joseph Haydn, 1732-1809

Piano Trio in e minor, Hob. XV:12, 1788

Joseph HaydnHaydn's music often seems so intuitive, direct and clear that it speaks much more succinctly than any words. Like many of the forty-five or so delightful works Haydn wrote in the genre, the Piano Trio in E minor beautifully speaks for itself. But there is something to explore in the mere scraps of nomenclature and categorization that cluster around a classical work like non-musical ciphers. The exercise reveals a few surprises.

"Piano Trio" seems obvious enough, but in fact, Haydn more often used a title like "Sonata for piano with accompaniments for a violin and a cello" or simply "Sonata". This highlights the ancestry of Haydn's piano trios in a tradition of "accompanied sonata" where cello and violin reinforce the keyboard's bass and treble, essentially, a piano sonata. Haydn's piano trios feature much more interesting roles for violin that this suggests while the cello adds an essential color and warmth. Mozart is usually given credit for evolving a new texture of independent, integral parts in the piano trio. His most celebrated example (K. 542) was written in the same year. This takes nothing away from Haydn's marvelous trios; they are brilliant and unique within their special genre, wonderful music regardless of genre.

The word "Piano" is likewise misleading. Many of Haydn's piano trios were composed for the harpsichord. This trio comes from a set of three Haydn composed using a "fortepiano", the word now used specifically for period instruments before advances in the 19th century produced something resembling the modern "piano". Haydn's last fifteen piano trios composed after 1794 were all intended specifically for the fortepiano. Even the last part of the title, "in e minor", provokes a comment. Key designations in a classical title usually come from the key signature of the first movement and often indicate the predominant tonal center of the entire multi-movement work. This not the case with Haydn's trio. Here, the last two movements are both written in E major so that, by proportion, E major is the work's predominant key. As the parallel rather than the relative major of e minor, two-thirds of the trio has a completely different key signature as well as a major mode.

Most piano trios before Beethoven comprised three movements, occasionally two, rarely four like the eventual standard model. This Haydn trio has three. Movements didn't usually have formal titles; they were simply labeled with Roman numerals. The titles for program listings usually derive from the tempo indication on the score at the beginning of each movement. Haydn's three movements are arranged according to a traditional pattern derived from the convention of early opera overtures, fast – slow – fast, often, more precisely, fast – slow – fastest, giving the finale the extra speed for a rousing conclusion. There were no metronomes until the early 19th century so tempo was indicated by conventional Italian terms with modifiers: Allegro moderato (moderately fast), Andante (literally, walking) and Presto (very fast). Many classical movement titles include an additional indication of mood or character that may imply a further nuance to the tempo. A glance at Haydn's other piano trios shows such modifiers as "cantabile" (singable or singing), "spiritoso" (spirited) and "innocentemente" (innocently), among others.

Occasionally, last movements bear the title "Finale". Why it is used sometimes and not others is unclear; it appears to be arbitrary, perhaps even an inconsistent afterthought by publishers. For this piano trio, Haydn supplies the title "Rondo" indicating the formal organization of the movement, a frequent choice for a finale. There are many finales in rondo form that don't use the corresponding title. While some movements name their form with titles like "Minuet", "Rondo" or "Variazioni", no movement from the Classical era bears the title "Sonata" though it is probably the most frequently used form of all. What we now call "sonata form" was so intuitive and pervasive that it had no name; it was not until the mid-19th century that theorists formally documented and named the concept. The word "sonata" was used for centuries to indicate that a work was instrumental rather than vocal, sounded (sonata) rather than sung (cantata). Explanations of sonata form suggest alternate terms such as "first-movement form" or "sonata-allegro form" which are both apt for this trio's first movement. But both terms fail to capture the true diversity and ubiquity of sonata form: it is often used for multiple movements within a single work including slow movements. Haydn's sparkling and witty final movement Rondo is a hybrid of both rondo and sonata forms: it has a recurring rondo refrain with contrasting episodes, the second of which is a dramatic sonata-like development of the rondo theme itself. As the virtual father of both the symphony and the string quartet, Haydn was the also the first truly great consolidator of sonata form with its myriad ingenious, non-textbook configurations. The first movement of this trio is a great example: its unusually brief development quickly gives way to the so-called recapitulation where Haydn sees fit to continue with the greater part of his development.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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