THE HAYDN PROJECT
Trio Gaspard is thrilled to be embarking on a new project, recording the complete Haydn piano trios, and are thankful to be working alongside Chandos Records in this major undertaking.
Haydn has been central to the repertoire of Trio Gaspard since its inception, in 2010, to the extent that it is rare that the group does not feature his music in concert programmes.
The trio comments:
We have experimented widely with the placement of his trios in concert, aiming to go beyond their functioning as a generic ‘light opener’ – to which they can all too easily be degraded when programmed unthinkingly at the beginning of trio recitals. We have, for example, placed two contrasting Haydn trios in the first half of a concert, to bookend music composed in the twentieth or twenty-first century. We have played a triptych of his trios before the interval, then switched to late romanticism in a contrasting second half. Haydn’s music has proved compelling in combination with major works by composers as diverse as Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Mauricio Kagel, Beethoven, Lili Boulanger, Dvořák, Frank Martin, and Shostakovich. We may ‘even’ (yes, it feels almost controversial to do so!) end concerts with Haydn; and the encores that we most often play remain final movements from various Haydn trios.
Drawing on these experiences, we have decided to record the trios neither chronologically nor in the groups in which they were first published. Instead we have aimed to create an interesting and contrasted ‘programme’ of trios for each volume, so that it can be listened to in a single, satisfying sitting. In addition, we have asked a composer to write a short work inspired by one of the trios from each volume, and we are excited by the contemporary perspectives on Haydn that these composers open up for us.
This first CD features "one bar wonder” by the group’s good friend, percussionist and composer Johannes Fischer.
Listen to Vol.1 here.
Composers working with the trio on future volumes:
"It’s truly a delight, and leaves this listener hungry for more...
...There’s much to applaud in this new exploration of the piano trios"
- The Strad
As usual, each volume is designed as a stand-alone programme and features a new work commissioned to reflect on one of the original trios or generally on Haydn – in this instance, "For Gaspard" by Leonid Gorokhov, a wonderful cellist & composer, and a close friend and mentor of the trio!
Listen to Vol.2 here.
PRESS REVIEWS: VOL.1
"Great music, boring cello parts was the traditional verdict on Haydn’s keyboard trios. If you got to know these glorious works through the now-classic 1970s Beaux Arts series you might well have agreed, so discreetly balanced was the cello, with pianist Menahem Pressler the undisputed star of the show. More recent recordings from the Vienna Piano Trio, Florestan et al have confirmed the cello’s crucial colouristic and structural role in music predicated on the close interdependence of the instruments. In this opening salvo of a projected complete cycle, Trio Gaspard are likewise a true democracy, relishing Haydn’s unpredictable interplay between piano and violin, and his subtly varied textures, as in the many moments when the cello tellingly migrates to the tenor register.
As Gaspard pianist Nicholas Rimmer explains in an illuminating note, each disc in the series will present a contrasted programme rather than a chronological sequence. So alongside three relatively familiar trios from Haydn’s second London visit (among them the melancholy F sharp minor, No 40, dedicated to Haydn’s lover Rebecca Schroeter), we get a pair of little-played works from the 1780s: the two-movement No 23, with its contrapuntally inclined opening Allegro and darting tarantella finale, and No 20, whose finale indulges in some crazy harmonic deceptions.
With their evident love of the music and minute care in its preparation, the Gaspard are at least a match for the best of their rivals, including the Vienna Piano Trio in Nos 32 and 38 and the Florestan in No 40. Their performances are both vital and finely detailed, with an inner rhythmic life and – crucially in Haydn – a palpable delight in the unexpected. Complementing Rimmer’s crisp pianism (not least in the scintillating finale of No 23), violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha uses vibrato sparingly for expressive effect, while Vashti Mimosa Hunter provides an eloquent rebuff to the old cliché that Haydn’s cello parts are dispensable add-ons. The Gaspard nicely catch the characteristic mix of lyrical spaciousness and improvisatory quirkiness in the first movements of Nos 32 and 38, while their broad tempo for No 40’s opening Allegro enhances the music’s pensive gravity. They are always alert to the comic-dramatic import of Haydn’s pauses and fermatas; and more than any of the rival groups, they add graceful and witty touches of ornamentation on repeats. The violin’s gleeful whoop up the scale near the start of No 38 is just one delightful instance. Haydn, you sense, would have nodded in approval.
Slow movements tend to be clear-eyed and smartly paced. Taking 4'13" to the Gaspard’s 3'16", the Vienna Piano Trio find a gentle pathos in the A minor Andante of No 32 where the Gaspard are edgy, emphasising Haydn’s staccato bass lines. In similar contrast, No 38’s bare-textured D minor Andante is almost aggressively spiky from the Gaspard. Slyly timing Haydn’s pauses and harmonic sideslips, the Gaspard are in their element in the antic finale of No 20; and cultivating a raw, even raucous tone, they transform themselves into a gypsy band in No 32’s Hungarian polonaise finale. It’s hugely entertaining. Both the Beaux Arts and the Vienna Piano Trio sound distinctly urbane by comparison.
For each volume of their Haydn series the Gaspard will commission a short work that takes its cue from one of the trios on the disc. It’s a neat idea, though I have to say that the repeated loop of Johannes Julius Fischer’s One Bar Wonder, based obsessively on the first phrase of No 20, set my teeth on edge long before the end. But don’t let this subjective reaction put you off an album of joyous, imaginative music-making that whets the appetite for future instalments."
- Gramophone (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"From the opening notes of the A major Trio the Gaspard Trio make an immediate impact with absorbing rhythmic vitality and impeccable musicianship. I am fast becoming a fan of the Gaspard Trio, they always produce engaging performances and this disc is no exception. The interplay between Jonian Ilias Kadesha (violin), Vashti Mimosa Hunter (cello) and Nicholas Rimmer (piano) is flawless, graceful and captivating.
Haydn has been central to the repertoire of the Trio since its inception. Nicholas Rimmer notes: “we have decided to record the trios neither chronologically nor in the groups in which they were first published. Instead we have aimed to create an interesting and contrasted ‘programme’ of trios for each volume, so that it can be listened to in a single, satisfying sitting.”
Trio Gaspard asked a composer to write a short work inspired by one of the trios from each volume and percussionist and composer Johannes Fischer contribute one bar wonder. It takes the somewhat provocative repetition of the ritornello in the andante of Haydn’s Piano Trio XV 7 humorously to another level with its delightful pauses focusing only on the first couple of seconds of this movement bringing it to a sudden end.
There are wonderful little touches from the lyrical, crisp playing caught so well by the recording engineers.
Phrasing is sublime, the lightness of touch polished, and the overall performance sophisticated and classy.
Without doubt the Gaspard Trio has produced in this first volume, a more than satisfying performance, more nourishing our souls with the beauty of Haydn’s contributions to the genre demonstrating his lyrical writing with playing that is well-balanced and expressive."
- Andrew Palmer, North East Post (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"The sprightly Allegro Moderato of the A Major Trio (Hob. XV: 18) shows each member of the ensemble creating clean lines that sync well. The idiomatic elegance, too, is preserved with some lovely shades of piano and a forte that is full but in no way heavy. In the Andante (track 3), the switch between melodic and accompanimental roles within each instrument is seamless and drives an engaging conversation between all parts. The middle A-major section radiates warmth; violinist Jonian Kadesha lends expressive arcs to his phrases that complement his resonant sound."
- Azusa Ueno, The Classic Review, July 2022 (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"It’s truly a delight, and leaves this listener hungry for more ... There’s much to applaud in this new exploration of the piano trios"
- The Strad, July 2022 (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"The top-ranking players of Trio Gaspard (from Germany, Britain and Greece) cherish Haydn’s every twist and turn, and cellist Vashti Hunter never seems downhearted at spending much of her time in pianist Nicholas Rimmer’s shadow. The musicians’ brio and colourful attack even make pleasant listening out of the album’s little contemporary encore, Johannes Julius Fischer’s One Bar Wonder, though I hope they’ll understand if I don’t regularly revisit a work where one bar of Haydn is subjected to 34 slowly degrading repetitions."
- David Threasher, The Times, July 2022 (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"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...
...Here, violin, cello and piano, by turns star and accompany, stand out and support; or trio in true concertante style."
- Will Yeoman, Limelight Magazine, July 2022 (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
"Trio Gaspard opts for a strikingly drawn opening: a successful approach to gradually increase the animosity afterwards. The “Adagio ” is a wonderful resting point. The elegant piano part is interpreted and graced with great finesse, while the strings each go their own way."
- Klassiek Centraal (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol 1 album review)
PRESS REVIEWS: VOL.2
"Last August I greeted the first instalment in Trio Gaspard’s survey of Haydn’s piano trios as a reason to be cheerful. And if the way of the world has wiped the smile off your face in the intervening months, here’s Volume 2 to put it back. Not only is the music itself impossible to resist, but once again the delight these players so evidently take in it positively pours out of the speakers."
- The Strad (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol.2 album review)
"As with volume one in their Haydn series, the Gaspard eschew strict chronological order in favour of juxtaposing works from different periods - the new disc features the trios Nos 7, 21, 33, 35 and 45 - with the aim, beautifully realised again here, of encouraging listeners to join dots, find contrasts and marvel at Haydn's prescience.."
- The Times and The Sunday Times (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol.2 album review)
"I enjoy listening to Trio Gaspard, the precision and depth of understanding is conveyed through delightful playing where the attention to detail is fluently defined, each nuance superbly crafted. In doing so, Trio Gaspard creates a sound bubble in which the listener can be immersed in performances that demonstrate insight and genius that one has come to expect from musicians of their calibre."
- North East Post (Haydn: Complete Piano Trios, Vol.2 album review)
‘Tafelmusik’ (literally ‘table-music’) was widely written by composers between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, most famously by Telemann, as diverting entertainment for feasts and banquets. Nowadays, we tend to look for diversion on our phone or tablet, even when eating, so Trio Gaspard and composer James Olsen decided to revive and update the Tafelmusik concept with a new project: Internetmusik.
This project comprises a series of short musical diversions for Trio Gaspard to perform online. Because our attention spans are getting shorter in the internet age, each piece will be only one minute long. You can listen to it again if you like it, though. While eating.