Plenty to delight in this infectious Haydn trio survey

Trio Gaspard: Haydn, Armstrong

The Strad Issue: June 2024

Description: Plenty to delight in this infectious Haydn trio survey

Musicians: Trio Gaspard

Works: Haydn: Complete Piano Trios vol. 3: nos.12, 19, 25 and 43. Armstrong: Revêtements

Catalogue number: CHANDOS CHAN20279

Trio Gaspard continues its survey of the complete Haydn piano trios with a third volume that bears out the high standards of the first two. As before, the selection is designed simply to work as a satisfyingly contrasting programme, rather than being chronologically arranged. Also as before, the trio has commissioned a short complementary new work, this time from Los Angeles-born pianist and composer Kit Armstrong.

The Trio in F major (no.19) makes an ideal opener, with Trio Gaspard imprinting the first of the work’s two movements with impeccable balance, along with a precision that nevertheless doesn’t come across as self-consciously crisp. The slow movements are elegantly turned, while the Polonaise of no.12 in E flat major is neatly sprung.

The recording is not especially lively, which invites us to interrogate forensically the apparently flawless playing. Pianist Nicholas Rimmer uses practically no pedal and the string playing can be terrifically light and deft, though there are some eye-opening accents in the minore section of no.43’s middle movement.

Armstrong’s Revêtements borrows its title from topology. While giving all players a workout, it also neatly uses ideas from Haydn, most obviously the skipping theme of the Presto from no.43.