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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN, J.: Flute Trios Nos. 15-17 (Grodd, Rummel, Hinterhuber)
It is not known for sure why Haydn chose the flute over the more usual violin in these three trios. Possibly it was to appeal to English or aristocratic taste for the instrument. Whatever the reason, there is no lessening of his profuse lyricism and contagious wit in these charming works. Both the D major and G major Trios end with virtuosic and witty pay-offs, whilst the F major is rather different; a more symphonically oriented work that fuses seriousness and fun in equal measure.
The New Zealand Herald
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Trios for Flute, Cello and Piano
Joseph Haydn’s three Trios for flute, violoncello and piano, Hob. XV:15–17, (his only ones for this combination) give much cause for speculation from a present-day perspective. Like so many of his works, the manuscripts are lost and, as with so many compositions ascribed to Haydn, it is often the case that countless numbers of his contemporaries published works under his name in order to capitalize on his fame but in doing so they raised issues of authenticity. With the works recorded here, however, this is not at all the case, but in relation to a body of source material and the date of composition another difficulty arises. The enterprising Joseph Haydn sold the works to two different publishers at once—to the Englishman John Bland, who had visited him in November 1789, and to his own ‘house’ publisher Artaria in Vienna. To begin with it can be established from the dates that the Trio in F major, Hob. XV:17, was reported in the Morning Herald of 22 February 1792 as being published by Bland and by the Wiener Zeitung on 22 November the same year by Artaria. The Trio in G major, Hob. XV:15, was registered by Bland and published as the “Second Trio for the Harpsichord or Piano Forte, German Flute & Violoncello” and the Trio in D major, Hob. XV:16 in the same year as the first. Bland furnished the title-page with an additional appendix which is downright ironic when viewed from today’s perspective: “This & the Two following Trios were wrote at the particular Request of the Publisher, when he was with M.r Haydn in Nov.r last, at which time he settled a Connection with him, Mess.rs Hoffmeister, Kozeluch, Mozart, Vanhall &c&c. whose Works will come out in this manner with all possible expedition; they are absolute property and Enter’d as such; J. Bland thinks this sufficient notice to other Publishers not to pirate the same.” On 20 October 1790 the Wiener Zeitung announced the appearance of both works with Artaria.
After the death of Nicholas I Joseph Prince Esterházy of Galantha on 28 September 1790 Haydn’s court orchestra was disbanded and Haydn moved to Vienna. In 1791/92 he undertook his first visit to England and in 1794/5 his second. It is not out of the question that the choice of the flute instead of the otherwise more usual violin in the piano trio line-up was already a concession to English taste. The flute was a favourite instrument of the aristocracy and of the genteel bourgeoisie and the London Trios, Hob. IV:1–4, were written for two aristocratic amateur flautists. Other composers, such as Vanhal and Stamitz, had already written successfully for the flute. The total of seven works, however, remain the only ones in which Haydn accorded the flute a central rôle.
The Trios in D major and G major adhere to classical sonata form. After an energetic first movement there follows a lyrical middle movement in which the flute and piano vie for the listener’s favour in equal measure, while the cello accompanies discreetly. The last movements of both trios are typical examples of Haydn’s inexhaustible abundance of surprising invention and of his penchant for playing jokes on his listeners. This is most clearly apparent in the countless different kinds of more or less sudden leads back to the respective main subjects or, in the G major Trio, the wittily prolonged piano cadenzas.
It is not only seen from this angle that the unusual form of the third Trio in F major is logical. The first movement is rather more serious in character and, in contrast to the instrumentally playful first movements of the other two trios, is reminiscent rather of so many symphonic or concertante works from Haydn’s oeuvre. The word ‘finale’ is prefixed unambiguously to the tempo-marking of the second movement and in contrast to the virtuosic final movements of the first works ‘Papa Haydn’ takes his leave here at the end of the ‘serious’ trio with a musical twinkle in his eye.
English translation by David Stevens
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HAYDN, J.: Flute Trios Nos. 15-17 (Grodd, Rummel, ...