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Haydn: Piano Trios, Vol. 2 (Trio Gaspard)

Trio Gaspard (Chandos)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Piano Trios, Vol. 2: Nos 7, 21, 33, 35 and 45; plus Leonid Gorokhov: For Gaspard
Trio Gaspard
Chandos CHAN20270   80:49 mins


The earliest work in this instalment of the Trio Gaspard’s complete Haydn cycle is a four-movement divertimento composed in the early 1760s, several years before Haydn took up employment with Prince Esterházy. It’s fairly innocuous stuff, but its slow movement is an expressive keyboard solo with a rudimentary accompaniment for the violin and cello; in an imaginative touch the Gaspard string players change to pizzicato for the repeat of the opening section.

The Trio No. 21, dating from the mid-1780s, does without a slow movement. The opening Allegro sounds a little conventional until Haydn throws in a chromatic syncopated passage, which returns later in an intensified form. The remaining pieces here were composed ten years later, around the time of Haydn’s London visits. They have deeply expressive slow movements, and exceptionally lively finales (the finale of the Trio No. 45, a work actually composed in London, is a Presto assai ‘in the German Style’). Liveliness and spontaneity are admirable qualities of the Trio Gaspard’s performances, though the spur-of-the-moment ornaments they add to the repeats sometimes sound a little fussy.

A feature of this series is the inclusion of short commissions from contemporary composers in response to Haydn. On this occasion the Russian cellist and composer Leonid Gorokhov has contributed an appropriately witty piece which he’s called simply For Gaspard. It’s skilfully written in mock-Haydn style, incorporating snatches of his D major Cello Concerto, but the joke wears a little thin.


Misha Donat