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Hyperion Records

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Vauxhall Gardens: The Grand Walk with the Orchestra Playing by Samuel Wale (1721-1786)
Museum of London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67611
Recording details: February 2007
St Paul's Church, Deptford, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: October 2007
Total duration: 20 minutes 5 seconds

'I quickly warmed to the pure, glowing sound of gut strings played perfectly in tune, and to the ensemble's delicacy of nuance and sensitivity to harmonic colour, treating the listener as a privileged eavesdropper … Catherine Manson is a graceful and nimble leader … the results are delightfully witty and spirited. Recorded in the warm, sympatheic acoustic of St Paul's Deptford, these performances should win new friends for an undeservedly neglected set' (Gramophone)

'A sonority that seems brighter and less astringent than that produced by 'period' ensembles, but one that is still far closer to what we assume to be the timbre of an eighteenth-century quartet … Hyperion's sound is ideal: close, clear and free of harshness and any intrusive breathing. In short, this is an interesting and possibly controversial release, but one that shows The London Haydn Quartet to be thoughtful, provocative and technically accomplished' (International Record Review)

'Without a doubt one of the all-time great Haydn quartet recordings … the original instrument London Haydn Quartet play Op 9 with such deep feeling, dynamic subtlety and phrasal sensitivity that even the simplest of ideas become things of wonder. Passages of generic cadencing and decoration that often pass by unacknowledged by other ensembles sound utterly magical here, the enhanced expressive flexibility of gut strings revelled in to the full' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The London Haydn Quartet plays lovely period instruments in a gentle manner, emphasizing the beauty of the music—highly evocative' (Fanfare, USA)

'On this superb double disc set from Hyperion, the London Haydn Quartet's playing of the set is intense, passionate and revelatory. It is difficult to imagine finer interpretations of these occasionally formulaic but always melodically colourful works. The quartet—comprising Catherine Manson and Margaret Faultless on violin, James Boyd on viola and Jonathan Cohen on cello—play on gut strings with classical bows. There is to be found none of the reserve or prissiness that can sometimes characterise period performance. The sound here is bright, resonant and gritty, the lack of vibrato adding a spicy, piquant tang to the ensemble timbre. The bowing is confident; tempi are firm and steady, yet subtle inflections and rhythmic manipulations crank up the drama to breaking point' (

String Quartet in D minor, Op 9 No 4
c1769; recorded from 1790 Longman and Broderip edition

Moderato  [8'28]
Menuetto  [4'15]
Cantabile adagio  [3'54]
Presto  [3'28]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The most famous—or, perhaps more accurately, the least neglected—quartet in the set is No 4 in D minor, probably the first to be written, and Haydn’s first quartet in the minor. In the Classical period, far more than in the early eighteenth century, the minor mode was associated with a special rhetorical intensity and the expression of sorrowful or turbulent emotion. With its disquieting pauses, ‘pathetic’ sighing appoggiaturas and extreme dynamic contrasts, the first movement of No 4 evokes the empfindsamer Stil, or ‘heightened sensibility’, of CPE Bach. But this music is also more rigorously argued than any of the other Op 9 first movements, through the powerful development (dominated by a three-note fluttering figure that may remind listeners of Mozart’s G minor symphony, No 40) to the drastically compressed recapitulation.

Equally powerful is the minuet, which a few years later became the direct model for the teenaged Mozart in his D minor quartet, K173. As so often in Haydn’s minuets from this period onwards, this is pointedly written against the grain of the traditional courtly dance. The phrase structure is asymmetrical, the tonality restless, with cadences asking new questions rather than resolving (the first section seems to be settling in F major but then slews round to a ‘tensing’ A minor). The pianissimo final bars allude unmistakably to the first movement’s pervasive ‘fluttering’ motif. Harmonic balm comes with the D major trio, composed as a ‘trio’ for the two violins, with the first playing in double stopping throughout. As Hans Keller pointed out in his classic study of the great Haydn quartets (London and New York, 1986), the double stopping creates a fuller sonority, with richer overtones, than would be possible if the same notes were played on two instruments.

The Cantabile adagio, in B flat, is another aria-serenade for Tomasini, a point of relaxation between two highly charged D minor movements. Following the example of C P E Bach’s ‘varied reprises’, the first section is delicately embellished on its repeat. The 6/8 finale, back in D minor, begins as if it were a fugue (the minor mode was closely associated with ‘learned’ counterpoint in the 1760s and 1770s) and continues with bantering scherzando textures. But levity is banished from the development, with its grimly striding arpeggios, and the recapitulation, even more violently compressed than that in the first movement and reaffirming D minor right through to its brusque unison close.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

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