Here is yet another of those little boxes that several labels, particularly Warner, have put out over recent years; whilst it's certainly good value for money, the slightly scattergun approach to the contents might put some off. Why? Well, we have a mixture of period instrument performances alongside the modern. Two of the recordings are well over 30-years old. I don't find this to be a problem, but some might prefer a more consistent approach to performance style. So, what is in the box?
CDs 1 & 2 feature "authentic" performances recorded way back in 1978 (the sound quality is well-nigh perfect to my ears) from a trio consisting of well-known period instumentalists in the form of Jaap Schroder, Wouter Moller, and Bob van Asperen; the latter's appearance is sure to mean a harpsichord, which is fine, and probably historically accurate, but I do find the fortepiano nicer in these works. The original CD set is still available as part of the old Teldec Das Alte Werk series The Early Keyboard Trios
. These are excellent performances of trios 1-6 and 7 & 10-14.
CD 3 features an early appearance from Andrew Manze on violin, with his colleagues Jaap ter Linden and Tini Mathot, playing trios 22-25. Here we do have a fortepiano! This CD dates from 1994 and was previously an Erato release Haydn - Piano Trios
. It's very good.
CD 4 features an obscure trio of Mikael Helasvuo on flute, Anssi Karttunen on cello, and Tuija Hakkila on fortepiano from 1992. As might be guessed from the performers names, this was once a long-deleted Finlandia release Trios for Flute Fortepiano & Cello
. I'm not so keen on this disc, as I find the flute begins to grate after a while; probably the weakest CD in the box.
The last CD, 5, features the much-missed Trio Fontenay, which released an excellent series of trio recordings throughout the 1990s.This one comes from 1998 and was originally released on Teldec. as You should look out for them on Warner's budget (but generally very good) Apex label - they are very much worth hearing. Oddly enough, I think Trio Fontenay were better suited to trios of a later date than Haydn's. Perhaps that is because they use modern instruments and I find them a little less suited to this repertoire than the periodists? I do think that there are better recordings elsewhere.
Apart from the Beaux Arts Trio complete set, a good little box to buy comes from Brilliant Classics; you get the lot in very good performances Haydn: Piano Trios
, surely the better buy.
If you are happy with the diverse range of perormers, this box is worth having.