The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Queen’s Chamber Trio
Composer: Haydn

The thinking behind this CD is that the harpsichord will bring something special to Haydn’s trios. Owing to vagaries of recording that leave me flummoxed, the case is only partly proven. Nowhere in the presentation material is any studio mentioned, so I have only my ears to tell me that at least two different venues and microphone set-ups are involved. The C major Trio is given quite a distant, oppressive, undifferentiated sound in a resonant space which makes everything seem heavy.

The result is that I form a rather equivocal opinion of harpsichordist Elaine Comparone and have difficulty in deciding what I think about her colleagues, violinist Robert Zubrycki and cellist Peter Seidenberg. The outer movements move quite well but the slow movement seems a little stiff in phrasing.

Suddenly for the E flat major Trio we appear to be in a different place. The whole impression is closer, clearer and more pleasant. One can appreciate some nice cooperation between the players. The string style is influenced by period considerations but both men employ some vibrato and I notice the cellist uses an endpin.

For the E major Trio we could be in yet another venue, or perhaps back in the first one, with slightly different microphoning. The result is halfway between the closed sound of the C major and the open sound of the E flat. The violin comes across quite well but it is difficult to hear much of the cello – not favoured by Haydn, in any case. A puzzling disc.