The pianoforte trios of Haydn are perhaps the only-works of first-rate artistic importance in which there is no doubt that the earlier stages of the new art do not admit of sufficient polyphony to give the instruments fair play.
Haydn finds the pianoforte so completely capable of expressing his meaning that he is at a loss to find independent material for any accompanying instruments; and the violoncello in his trios has, except perhaps in four passages in the whole collection of thirty-three works, not a note to play that is not already in the bass of the pianoforte; while the melodies of the violin are, more often than not, doubled in the treble.
It would be impossible to add a note to Haydn's trio; the only question is how to account for the superfluity of much of the string parts and how to make the trios effective in performance.
In the time of Bach such writing was beautifully suited to enliven the dry glitter of the harpsichord, and Bach's duets for clavier and violin seem to have been sometimes played as trios with a violoncello playing from the clavier bass.
His trios were, indeed, published under the title of "pianoforte sonatas with accompaniment of violin and violoncello"; but this in no way militates against the above remarks as to their proper method of performance nowadays, when we take into consideration the greater strength of tone of the modern pianoforte, especially in the bass, and the fact that in no case could a violinist consent to play as an accompaniment such melodies as that at the beginning of the G major trio known as No.
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