What a wonderful idea. To group each volume in this new complete survey of Haydn’s Piano Trios not chronologically but in a way that provides a satisfying listening experience in one sitting, yes. But especially to commission a new short work inspired by one of the trios in each program. In this case, it’s Johannes Julius Fischer’s hilarious “one bar wonder” – a loopy loop inspired by the Andante from Haydn’s Piano Trio No 20 in D.
Although it comes last in the program its performance is indicative of Trio Gaspard’s approach to Haydn overall: affectionate, intelligent and always alert to Haydn’s musical inventiveness and sense of humour. Indeed, the performers (Jonian Ilias Kadesha, violin; Vashti Mimosa Hunter, cello; Nicholas Rimmer, piano) regularly program Haydn’s trios in their concerts, alongside those of composers from every period. So, there’s a clear commitment to conversation not just within each work but between all works… and all composers.
This gives their playing a quality that is at once both intimate and expansive; historically informed but open to signals from the contemporary zeitgeist. For example, the opening Trio No 32 in A is all zest and ebullience, while the dramatic first movement of the Trio No 40 in F Sharp Minor deflects earnestness in favour of truth.
Throughout (there are five Haydn trios on this first volume), there is a particular sensitivity, too, to overturning a common misconception about Haydn’s piano trios: that the parts are unbalanced; that the piano dominates; that the cello is often relegated to a continuo-like bass-line role.
None of which is true. Here, violin, cello and piano, by turns star and accompany, stand out and support; or trio in true concertante style.
Composers: Joseph Haydn, Johannes Fischer
Works: Piano trios
Performers: Trio Gaspard
Label: Chandos CHAN20244