Baryton (W. F. Jaura, 1934) after Simon Schodler, 1782
(photo by José Vázquez)
Prince Nikolaus Eszterházy, Haydn's music-loving employer, played a few instruments himself and most notoriously had a soft spot for a nutty old instrument called the baryton. It is similar to a viola da gamba, except that the baryton has a set of resonating strings on the underside of the neck that vibrate sympathetically just above the sound box. Because the back of the neck is open, the player can also pluck the sympathetic strings with his left thumb, if the harmony at that point in the score is compatible with the pitches of the open strings. The instrument was long out of fashion when Haydn was chastened by the Prince to write more music for it, then almost entirely forgotten in the 19th century, and one rarely gets the chance to hear it played live -- in fact, this is the first such concert in the history of Ionarts. The multi-talented Kenneth Slowik, artistic director of the SCMS series and curator of the Smithsonian instrument collection (a must-see Washington destination for any music lover), made it happen by playing a 2008 Henner Harders reproduction of a Stadlmann baryton (Vienna, 1732).
Haydn, Baryton Trios (selection), Geringas Baryton Trio
Haydn, Baryton Trios (complete), Esterházy Ensemble (recorded at Esterháza)
Joan Reinthaler, Haydn Trios: A Lesson in Musical Evolution (Washington Post, March 23)
One of the world's leading baryton players, David Geringas, will appear with his trio on the National Gallery of Art's Sunday concert series next month (April 26, 6:30 pm).
Adagio from Haydn's Trio in D Major (Hob. XI:113), with José Vázquez (baryton),
Lucia Krommer (cello), Christa Opriessnig (viola)