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I well remember the great buzz over the release of the Beaux Arts Trio's recordings of all the Haydn piano trios back in the late 1970s. They came as a revelation, even to those of us who thought we knew our Haydn. The trios, with few exceptions, had been woefully neglected both in the concert hall and on recordings. And indeed the Beaux Arts complete traversal remains the only one ever made, as far as I know. Some, perhaps all, of the recordings were made in the then-current 'quadraphonic' system of recording. In those days before CDs, there was a brief heyday of four-track LP recordings made by Philips. Those LPs required special equipment and few people invested in the system. But the four-track tapes of all kinds of music were archived by Philips and a new company founded by former Philips engineers -- the Pentatone label -- had obtained rights to those tapes and there has been a steady stream of releases on SACD since they went into business. One supposes that this mid-price two-SACD pack is but the first release of the Beaux Arts Trio's Haydn piano trios in SACD format. The regular stereo box set of 9 CDs has never been out of print and thus one imagines that Pentatone intends to release a total of 9 SACDs with the same content. These performances certainly set a standard for the presentation of these trios. Perhaps that's why no other piano trio has ever seen fit to record all of them.

There are nine trios on this set and although the Hoboken Catalog numbers make it look like they are the early trios in Haydn's output, that is deceiving. It is true that the trio here with the lowest Hoboken number, XV/2, dates from the late 1760s and is more like a suite or divertimento, most of the nine of the trios on these discs came from the middle to late 1780s. Haydn still considered them to be works for piano with violin and cello accompaniment, and consequently the piano part -- here played with his customary élan by Menahem Pressler -- is in the musical foreground. As the piano trio form was new it had not yet developed into the partnership of equals that it became in the hands of Haydn's younger colleagues, Mozart and Beethoven. To the very end of the series of trios Haydn wrote the cello part mainly as amplification of the piano's bass line.

The recordings were made in the fabled acoustic of the Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. The sound back then was startlingly good, and the sound on these remastered discs remains amazingly good. There is plenty of presence in the sound and there is ample space around Pressler's piano, Isidore Cohen's violin and Bernard Greenhouse's cello. These are hybrid SACD discs which can be played on SACD as well as regular stereo equipment. I honestly don't hear a great deal of difference between the two playback methods but there is more bloom in the SACD version. I do, however, hear a clearer and more lifelike sound on these discs than I do on the regular stereo box-set of all the trios. Haydn: Complete Piano Trios There has been noticeable improvement, thanks to Pentatone's engineers.

A word to the wise: Those looking for the most famous of the Haydn piano trios, the so-called 'Gypsy', Hob. 15/25, will not find it here. Presumably it will be released in due time.

Amazon has not, as of the date of this review, listed the set's contents.
They are:
Trio in F, Hob. 15/2
Trio in B flat, Hob. 15/8
Trio in F, Hob. 15/6
Trio in G, Hob. 15/5
Trio in E flat, Hob. 15/10
Trio in D, Hob. 15/7
Trio in A, Hob. 15/9
Trio in E minor, Hob. 15/12
Trio in E flat, Hob. 15/11

Strongly recommended.

Scott Morrison
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on 14 January 2010
A staple in the Haydn recorded repertoire for many decades now spruced up and reissued in quad sound as originally recorded by Phillips. Unfortunately these were the only ones recorded in this format. Unbeatable value at full price unbelievable at this price.
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on 19 December 2010
Terrific coupling of 9 piano trios on 2 CD's by the Beaux Arts Trio at a most attractive price. There's no better performances or recording. A must.
P.S. Well, it was a great price when I bought it from Amazon for less than £14-00. Shame about the massive price increase.
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on 24 February 2013
Excellent playing and very natural recording combine to produce a very charming and enjoyable disc. this may not be the best know Haydn repertoire but it is very easy on the ear and a welcome addition to my collection. Pentatone have done wonders making this erstwhile quadraphonic Phillips material available on SACD.
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on 21 December 2014
I love these recordings. It's hard to think anyone could better the beautiful rendition of these masterpieces by the Beaux Arts Trio.
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on 30 June 2015
Excellent value .Speedy service.
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on 21 February 2010
Fine though these performances are the selection of trios offered here do not represent Haydn at his most inspired. The renditions are unfailingly musicianly, but with the exception of one or two movements there is little to linger long in the memory. One for the completists.
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