The elegant refinement of Leopold Kozeluch piano trios

I’m a little late to the party. This is the first volume of Leopold Kozeluch piano trios I’ve auditioned. In this release, the TRIO 1790 presents three more Kozeluch trios.

The three trios in this release were published in 1786 and 1787. As was common at the time, they’ve technically named keyboard sonatas. The fortepiano hadn’t fully replaced the harpsichord, so composers were careful to write keyboard parts that could be played on either.

In this case, we hear a fortepiano — and a darned good one, too. Early keyboard instruments seem to be plagued with two problems: intonation and mechanical sound. Not so here.

Harald Hoeren plays a reproduction of a 1790s Matthäus Hellmann fortepiano. The action is virtually silent, letting the music come through. And the instrument holds its pitch very well. So while the timbre is different from a modern piano, it’s not inferior to it.

And neither is the playing. TRIO 1790 has an impressive catalog of recordings, all focused on early Classical trios. In addition to the (now) three volumes of Kozeluch, they’ve released seventeen other trio recordings, including an 8-volume set of Haydn’s. Beethoven, CPE, and JC Bach, Just, Dussek, Pleyel, and more.

TRIO 1790 has internalized the performance practices of the era, and play on instruments the music was written for. These trio sound light, transparent, and agile. If you think Mozart had a monopoly on that sound, listen to these works. Elegant music was in the air.

Well, nothing for it. I now have to go back and get those two previous volumes of Kozulech trios. And perhaps a few other releases from the TIO 1790’s back catalog, too.

Leopold Kozeluch: Piano Trios Vol. 3
TRIO 1790
CPO 555 096-2

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