Stéphane Tétreault / Marie-Ève Scarfone HAYDN - SCHUBERT - BRAHMS

In this celebration of Vienna, Stéphane Tétreault and Marie-Ève Scarfone evoke two instruments that are no longer commonly played today. Their performance transports us from the grace of a Haydn divertimento to Schubert’s divine “Arpeggione”, to say nothing of the depth of Brahms’ Cello Sonata No.1.
The baryton, a member of the viola da gamba family, was in use as early as the 17th century but did not gain popularity until the second half of the 18th century. In addition to its seven bowed strings, the baryton has 16 to 20 wire strings that are plucked with the thumb of the left hand, making it particularly diffi cult to master. Joseph Haydn contributed greatly to the baryton’s popularity by writing over 170 works for the instrument, including 126 trios, no doubt at the behest of his patron, Prince Nicolas Esterhazy, who played the instrument himself.
The version heard here of one of Haydn’s many works for baryton, viola and cello was arranged by the Russian-born American cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, a virtuoso who performed chamber music with greats such as Arthur Rubinstein, William Primrose, and Jascha Heifetz. Like most baryton trios, the Divertimento in D begins with a slow movement whose transparency and textures Stéphane Tétreault compares to a watercolour painting, followed by a stately minuet and an exuberant finale. 
A bowed string instrument that is tuned like a guitar, the arpeggione enjoyed limited popularity (over a period of no more than 10 years), likely due to its lack of an end pin, making it diffi cult to handle, and to its six strings, making it tricky to bow the middle strings. Franz Schubert’s Sonata, completed in November 1824, a year after the arpeggione’s invention by Johann Georg Staufer, remains the instrument’s most well-known work. It was published posthumously in 1871, with transcriptions for violin or cello already in addition to the arpeggione part. “The piece is technically very diffi cult,” points out Stéphane Tétreault, “but once on stage, the performer must attempt to transcend these diffi culties. The listener is often transfi xed by the ambiance this masterpiece creates.”

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