Franz Joseph Haydn: Piano Trio (Hob. XV, No. 25) “Gypsy Trio”

I. Andante
II. Poco Adagio
III Rondo all’Ongarese

Chamber music in the eighteenth century was written for and performed for the aristocracy. Music was an aesthetic pleasure: thus an emphasis was placed on musical balance and clarity in the context of an expressive style: evident particularly in the first two movements of this trio, which are, curiously, both slow. The clarity in style is also representative of the composer-keyboardist-conductor model of musical patronage. The themes of this trio are presented with violin and piano unison (or passed between the piano and violin) while the cello acts as continuo, adding dimension to the texture.

The Gypsy element of this trio is found in the last movement. Haydn was court composer for Prince Esterhazy (in what is now Hungary). There are two folk melodies quoted. The main theme is a Verbunko, which was a dance use to encourage the peasants to sign up to the army. The Minore section is also a Hungarian folk melody.

© Greg Smith, 2009