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Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

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

Piano Trio No. 40 in f-sharp minor, Op. 82, No. 3, Hob. XV:26

(for violin, cello and piano)
6:11 I. Allegro
4:22 II. Andante cantabile
5:10 III. Tempo di menuetto
Duration: 16 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1795 (age 62-63)
Dedication: Rebecca Schroeter
3 recordings, 9 videos
autoopen autoplay
5:32
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
I. Allegro
3:25
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
II. Andante cantabile
4:57
Kungsbacka Piano Trio
III. Tempo di menuetto
5:19
Van Swieten Trio
I. Allegro
3:41
Van Swieten Trio
II. Andante cantabile
4:46
Van Swieten Trio
III. Tempo di menuetto
5:39
Eisenstadt Haydn Trio
I. Allegro
4:37
Eisenstadt Haydn Trio
II. Andante cantabile
5:17
Eisenstadt Haydn Trio
III. Tempo di menuetto
From Kai Christiansen

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Piano Trio Hob.XV:26 in f-sharp minor, c. 1795

Haydn is well known for his monumental achievements with the symphony and the string quartet but he was equally prodigious in at least two other genres at the heart of the classical tradition: the keyboard sonata and the keyboard trio, both transitioning from the harpsichord to the piano during the course of his career. Haydn composed something like fifty keyboard sonatas and another forty or so keyboard trios. The final ten "late" trios were written between 1794 and 1797 specifically for the piano rather than the harpsichord. They are known as the "London Trios" since Haydn wrote them primarily during his second, marvelously successful trip to England following his retirement from service to the Hungarian Esterházys.

Composed no later than 1795, the piano trio in f-sharp-minor is, like its fellow London Trios, a distinctly individual work. Haydn used f-sharp minor only twice in his chamber works (here and in a string quartet from Op. 50), and the dark-hued tonality saturates the two outer movements. The trio begins with a crisp Allegro in sonata form with two clear thematic areas made vivid by the change from minor to major. A comparison with the lush and relatively florid piano parts of the Ravel and Mendelssohn trio reveals the transparent textures and astonishing economy of means that characterize the truly classical trios of Haydn and Mozart.

The central movement is surely one of Haydn's finest. A genial shift to f-sharp major is accompanied by a change in tempo and mood for a slow movement of gorgeous repose suggesting the dreamy piano concerti of Mozart. Haydn's piano trios are often considered "accompanied piano sonatas" where violin and cello enjoy only modest roles reinforcing the keyboard as the central player. But this movement demonstrates some truly artful and independent writing for the violin, an argument against that misleading characterization.

In a formal practice common for the time, Haydn concludes this three-movement work with a minuet and trio with its traditional deliberate movement marked "Tempo di Menuetto." Poised, delicate and dark, the minuet gives way to a trio in f-sharp-major that has the lilt and charm of an English ditty. A dramatic flourish bends the music back to the minor-keyed minuet. Perhaps to give extra weight to the movement as a finale, Haydn unusually equips the minuet with a coda, intensifying the music for resolute closure.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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