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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: 23 minutes 18 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' (MusicOHM.com)

String Quartet in C major, Op 9 No 1
composer
c1769; recorded from the 1790 Longman and Broderip edition

Moderato  [8'52]
Adagio  [7'15]
Presto  [3'59]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first movement of No 1 exploits the sonorous richness characteristic of string music in C major, founded on the distinctive resonance of the cello’s open C string, not least in the musette-like drones near the beginning. Its narrative is dominated by the boldly plunging opening theme, immediately varied by the first violin (scope here for Tomasini’s fantasy) and later reworked in imitative dialogue as a ‘second subject’. Deep pedal points feature prominently both here and in the minuet, where Haydn plays one of his favourite games: an opening phrase that serves equally well as a closing gesture. The glumly inscrutable trio, in C minor, never comes to a formal close, but instead hovers on the dominant of C, underpinned by yet another cello pedal point. In the beguiling, siciliano-style Adagio the second violin occasionally adds its own voice to the leader’s increasingly ornate serenade. The Presto finale bursts in with an exuberant, leaping theme that Mozart surely remembered in the finale of his ‘Linz’ Symphony, and continues with lively repartee on a sinuous chromatic figure. But whereas in later years Haydn would have exploited the contrapuntal potential of the main theme, here the development is largely given over to toccata-style fireworks for Tomasini.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

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