Trilogy – Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn Part 1/3

By Gabriel Prynn, cellist

Part 1/3: Haydn

Version française

Following our success in the English capital last spring, we are delighted to present this same programme to our dear Montreal public!

Like a breath of fresh air, the piano trios of Mendelssohn carry us through from the end of Mozartian classicism to the birth of Romanticism, emphasizing the authentic expression of this passionate German composer for whom we have a particular affection. The imagination behind the sparkling Trio « Gypsy” by Haydn is rooted in his musical experiences while a musician engaged at the royal Hungarian court. Beethoven’s « Archduke Trio » remains emblematic of this central period of his creative life, marked by heroic and grandiose gestures, full of virtuosity and dynamic extremes, thus bringing to life the dramatic aspects of his personality. Speaking of drama, let’s not forget that Beethoven, celebrated as the greatest piano virtuoso of his time, wrote no less than three wills. The first, discovered only after his death, was written when he was only 32, but already struck by many family difficulties, and above all the greatest evil that can befall a musician: deafness.

Haydn: Trio in G Major, Hob XV / 25 « Gypsy » (1795)

The poetic stimulus that lies behind Joseph Haydn’s Trio in G, nicknamed « the Gypsy », stems from his long association with the princely court of the Esterházy family in Hungary.


Haydn Room in Esterházy Palace
Haydn Room in Esterhàzy Palace


Thus Haydn naturally chose to adorns his work with various elements for Gypsy or Hungarian folk music, especially in the final Rondo. One can read in the manuscript that this final movement, entitled Rondo all’Ongarese (Hungarian Rondo), also carries the subtitle « In the Gypsy’s style. » And why written in English? Well precisely because at that time Haydn was sojourning in London, enjoying the peak of his popularity in that city.
Joseph Haydn playing quatuor

The first movement, Andante, is a string of variations based on a charming theme introduced by the violin, subsequently led through numerous rhythmic, tonal and melodic transformations.

The central Poco Adagio glows in the contrasting key of E major: music of boundless tranquility, the generous and all-encompassing melodies passing between the piano and violin, all supported by a rich bass line in cello.

In the « Gypsy » part of the trio – that is to say in the last movement – one is struck by the relentless energy of the music, with all the players of the ensemble offering the listener galloping melodies bursting with life. Interpreted – as we do – with tempo changes and all the theatricality of gypsy musicians improvising around the campfire, this movement is truly a jewel of the chamber music repertoire.

At the very end of the work, after all these moments of caprice and fury, we slip transparently into the final perfect cadence.


Trilogy – Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn on October 11th, 2016 at 7.30pm at Bourgie Hall

Trilogy – Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn Part 2/3

Trilogy – Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn Part 3/3

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