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D2H, Dedicated To Haydn
18 Piano Trios

Haydn Trio Eisenstadt of Vienna

Harald Kosik (piano), Verena Stourzh (violin) and Hannes Gradwohl (cello)

CD 1 Gerhard Krammer: ...und Licht...
John Woolrich: The Night will not draw on
Xiaogang Ye: Piano Trio, op.59
Johanna Doderer: 2. Klaviertrio DWV 52
Bongani Ndodana-Breen: Two Nguni Dances
José María Sánchez-Verdú: HEKKAN II

CD 2 William Bolcom: Rondo: HAYDN GO SEEK
Jury Everhartz: Haydntrio
Yui Kakinuma: KAGETSU -Etude on the name of Haydn
Jacqueline Fontyn: Lieber Joseph!
Helmuth Hödl: An Haydn
Márton Illés: Torso VI

CD 3 Lalo Schifrin: Elegy and Meditation
Dieter Schnebel: Haydn-Destillate
Gernot Schedlberger: Übermalung 1, op.20
Elena Kats-Chernin: Calliope Dreaming
Betsy Jolas: Ah! Haydn
Elisabeth Harnik: Shadow Cracks

Capriccio Phoenix Edition 7020 (3 CDs) Released on 13 Jul 2009 [recorded in Berlin and co-produced by DeutschlandRadio]
Amazon UK £19.59

Last year The Fidelio Trio staked a claim for the overdue re-invention of the piano trio, which had languished in 'comparative decline' since WW II. "- - replenished after a period of drought, it can now be anything you want it to be". Hugely successful (see Musical Pointers review) the idea has now borne fruit (in parallel) with the release tomorrow of 18 new piano trios commissioned from composers world-wide for the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt of Vienna. Joseph Haydn lived in Eisenstadt for over 40 years; the city was the focal point of his artistic biography. The project was master-minded by Harald Kosik and Walter Reicher, Artistic Director of Haydn Festival Eisenstadt.

This 3-CD box set is attractively presented; the individual items are variable as such enterprises are bound to be. The "rules" are not supplied to us; it seems that they were commissions, probably for pieces c. 10 mins each, and not subject to judgement. Many of the composer's names will be unfamiliar; each provides a note on his/her's piece, but for biographical notes you'll have to use Google to search... All the 18 new trios were premiered in Haydn Hall of the Esterházy Castle in Eisenstadt, April/May 2009, with the composers present.

I have heard them all and enjoyed a fair majority - they are composed in widely different styles as one would expect, and no-one will like them all equally. I preferred those that were closer to Haydn, with recognisable links, and that were more open and outgoing in style, reflecting the great man who famously prided himself that "my language is understood throughout the world" - that motto repeated in many languages through the booklet.

Most of the composers looked in admiration towards Haydn; a few were more keen not to compromise with their own personal styles, however recondite those.

The recorded performances are, predictably, fine and the only reservation about the presentation is the pale green print for some of the commentaries.

See here Harnik's manifesto, her rarified piece Shadow Cracks not a good choice to end the whole project - if you can't read the English version, nor could I ! A lot of sins are accountable to Arts Editors of CD booklets who are inconsiderate towards those many of us who have vision problems (this one a firm, not a named individual). They use a lot of pale green; for Harnik (accidentally) it is even paler, to near vanishing... Strong black on white is still the best.

Since May these works can be performed in the UK with no commissioning costs incurred by UK promoters. I hope for a further review, maybe from a working piano trio? We should look forward to a time when canonic masterworks are not the exclusive fare in piano trio recitals; there should always be time made to slip in at least one of these.

A more radical suggestion: every music college/conservatoire should get this box of CDs into its library, and with cooperation between the chamber music and composition departments there is still time before the end of the Haydn Year to organise a local project, such as those often done in London by RAM. Why not plan a series of recitals by the several piano trios that can be assembled, and bring in student composers to offer their tributes too to Haydn, everyone's favourite chamber music composer?

Peter Grahame Woolf