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Briefly Noted: Haydn Trios with Piano

available at Amazon
Haydn, Trios with Piano, Marc Hantaï, Alessandro Moccia, Alix Verzier, Jérôme Hantaï

(released on June 17, 2022)
Mirare MIR636D | 67'50"
The three Hantaï brothers were familiar to Washington listeners, although they have not appeared here in over a decade. Two of them, flutist Marc Hantaï and fortepianist Jérôme Hantaï, recorded this disc of Haydn keyboard trios in February 2020, just before the world shut down, at the Théâtre élisabéthain d’Hardelot. The four pieces selected came late in the composer's career, written between 1784 and 1790, near the time Haydn retired from the service of the Esterházy family.

Marc Hantaï takes the treble part for two of these trios. His charming, breathy sound on the transverse flute blends beautifully with the mellow fortepiano played by Jérôme Hantaï, the brother who plays viola da gamba as well as keyboard instruments. The third brother, Pierre Hantaï, is a harpsichordist, who could theoretically have made these pieces an entirely family affair. Instead Alix Verzier, a long-time member of Les Arts Florissants, takes the cello part.

Violinist Alessandro Moccia, the concertmaster of Philippe Herreweghe's Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, takes the treble part in the other two trios. The effect is not as sparkling, perhaps due to the less unusual timbre of the instrument or the musical content. In all four pieces, the keyboard is always the lead voice, which accords with the composer's occasional description of them as "piano sonatas." Jérôme Hantaï draws out a svelte, precise sound from the unspecified fortepiano.

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