Haydn’s ‘piano trios’ (as his accompanied piano sonatas are known) are among the most delightful and inventive of all his works. They have a ‘domestic’ reputation, and indeed they were intended for playing at home. But we make a mistake if we think that this meant that Haydn expected music-making of limited accomplishment. Many outstanding musicians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries never performed in public for one simple reason: they were women. Who knows how many gifted women musicians were denied opportunities that their male counterparts enjoyed. But when it comes to pianists, we can at least get some idea of their talents from the music that was written for them.
Among the women pianists whom Haydn met while he was in London in the 1790s, one of the most highly-regarded was Therese Jansen, a pupil of Clementi. Haydn named her as among the capital’s most important pianists. Haydn wrote for her a set of three piano trios which were published in London in 1797—Hob XV: 28 and 29 on this disc, and No 27 in C major (on Hyperion CDA67719). The challenging piano parts suggests that she must have been a very fine performer—and indeed the string-writing is no less demanding. They are not only virtuoso works, but have an exceptionally wide range of expression.
The Florestan Trio, with their magnificent pianist Susan Tomes, dazzle in this repertoire. Their first disc of Haydn’s piano trios was enthusiastically acclaimed (see below) and this release is sure to follow its critical and commercial success.
'The Florestans play with a spring in their fingers Haydn's last four piano trios dating from the mid-1790s' (Classic FM Magazine)
'The Florestans display their customary virtuosity, elegance and caprice in these outwardly easy-going works, once again capturing the full (and deceptively wide) emotional range of what may appear on the surface to be merely domestic entertainment music … A highlight of the year' (Gramophone)
'Haydn … would have admired Susan Tomes' quick wit and dexterity … This is Haydn stimulated by instrument and player into some of his most original music, obviously relishing the unusual textures, which are paid proper respect by the attentive recording as well as by the players … This is all brilliant ensemble playing by thoughtful and enthusiastic as well as skilful performers' (International Record Review)