‘It’s a great honour to have been able to record the second volume of Haydn’s Baryton Trios for Naxos and the experience in putting this album together was exhilarating. The choice of repertoire spans nearly all of Haydn’s output for baryton trio, ranging from his sixth trio right up to his more virtuosic 113th. By choosing to record such a broad span of his explorations into writing for the baryton, I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing Haydn’s development as a composer for this beautiful instrument.’
– Matthew Baker
The city of Eisenstadt was the location of the Esterházy Court where Joseph Haydn was music director for 25 years. Prince Nikolaus commissioned Haydn to write trios for the baryton, an instrument on which the Prince had become proficient. The baryton is a bowed, stringed instrument similar to the viol but with extra plucked strings that can enable the performer to accompany themselves. For Nikolaus, Haydn wrote string trios of elegance, refinement and poise that encapsulate a rich variety of moods. Seldom performed or recorded, the baryton trios attest to Haydn’s limitless powers of invention in every medium.
The Valencia Baryton Project comprises Matthew Baker (baryton), Estevan de Almeida Reis (viola) and Alex Friedhoff (cello), musicians from the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía opera house in Valencia and the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. They founded the ensemble to explore some 170 works that Franz Joseph Haydn composed for the baryton, which is a cross between a viola da gamba and a lirone. At the heart of the project is the traditional baryton trio – baryton, viola and cello – for which Haydn wrote 123 works of outstanding beauty during his time as court composer for Prince Esterházy of Austria.
From left to right: Alex Friedhoff, Matthew Baker and Estevan de Almeida Reis