The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

Music à la Carte, Haydn Concert Review

This is a review of Kallos Chamber Music Serie's 'Music à la Carte' Performance of Franz Joseph Haydn's 28th Piano Trio in D Major. You can find out more about the series here.


Franz Joseph Haydn is widely considered the ‘Father of the Symphony/String Quartet' due to his extensive contribution to the genre, along with his other categorical accomplishments. Haydn’s compositional output, spanning approximately 50 years and 772 miles [London and Vienna], is cumulatively diverse, having written no less than 100 Symphonies, 68 String Quartets, and even 32 pieces for Mechanical Clock. Some of his most extraordinary works like The Creation, The Seven Last Words of Christ, and The Lord Nelson Mass, are still globally performed today to critical acclaim, thanks to efforts by organizations like The Handel and Haydn Society with their HIP [Historically Informed Performance] practices, and International Haydn Societies, who host annual Conferences, the American chapter bolstered by their newly constituted, online Journal. In this time of COVID, however, one’s ability to patronize theatres and musical venues has been all but depleted, and artists, as well as audiences, have had to familiarize themselves with digital interfaces instead of Concert halls, and performers, especially, have had to become accustomed to performing in front of screens, which provide little to no direct receptivity. As the disconcerting revelation started to materialize that classical music’s foreseeable future was indeed wholly online, Concert venues, Opera Houses, and Professional Groups of all tiers started the process of carving out their spot in the online sector, thus solidifying a previously under-utilized performance medium, the Internet.

Last week, The Kallos Chamber Music Serie’s, a freshly founded artistic community focused on delivering an ‘intimate chamber music’ experience to their patrons, their performance and work aesthetic akin to Europe’s 17-18th century dignified assemblage, had their first [online] concert entitled, “Music à la Carte,” featuring Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 28 as the featured piece. Performed by the phenomenal talent of Beomjae Kim, flutist/visual artist, not to mention one of Symphony Magazine’s six Young Emerging Artists, Khari Joyner, incredibly accomplished International cellist, and Min Young Kang, award-winning Pianist and recent graduate of the Collaborative Piano Fellowship via Yale University, Haydn’s second of four Trio’s, completed before his first trip to England in 1791, was nothing short of perfection, every semi-quaver flourish and major-minor transition was treated with delicacy and refinement, a characteristic lacking in the realm of everyday modernity. Particularly notable was the Trio’s collective timbral warmth, harmonious cadential mastership, and choice of tempi, which often dovetailed with dynamic variations, themselves being adroitly executed by Min Young Kang, especially the A-major staccato aplomb in the first movement, which quickly transitioned to its minor sister, partnered with a brisk left-hand Alberti bass, Beom Jae Kim’s flawless, grace-note accents, and Khari Joyner’s unadorned, yet formally needed, quarter note heartbeats.

The trios syngericism was distinctly evident throughout Movement One, where blooming rhythmicity folded over itself into creeping chromaticism, only to reemerge as sanguine, melodic restatements, continuously bolstered by sturdy, cello structuralism. In fact, it was given an a-minor ‘voice’ towards the end of Movement One with the other two musicians. But, in true Haydn verbiage, he satirized the very concept of melodic restatement-ism by stopping right on an unresolved e-minor7 chord, only to pivot back into the ‘real,’ C-major melody. Haydn’s early vocal training clearly influenced his formative aesthetic, and quotes like, “Singing must almost be reckoned one of the lost arts; instead of song, people allow the instruments to dominate,” point to Haydn’s vexation at then composer’s ostensible lack of melodic acumen, opting instead for cold, pseudo-Bachian horizontal compositionalism, This is most evident in Haydn’s Movement Two opening passage, a two-part, buttressed, fugue which is first initialized by Min Young Kang’s cantabile subtlety, and it was the fugue’s first note that made me fathom her interpretative prowess. A dainty, barely audible A introduced the d minor fugue, and from that point, once Beomjae Kim’s ephemeral lyricism was added along with Khari Joyner’s tiptoe, chromatic leading-tone staccati, through a series of melodic trade-offs, and sonorous 16th-note flourishes, slowing into a unison fermata’d A, Movement Three sprung out of the languorous melancholy with youthful vigor, here established by K