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Track(s) taken from CDA67611

String Quartet in E flat major, Op 9 No 2

composer
c1769; recorded from the 1790 Longman and Broderip edition

The London Haydn Quartet
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: 22 minutes 52 seconds

Cover artwork: Vauxhall Gardens: The Grand Walk with the Orchestra Playing by Samuel Wale (1721-1786)
Museum of London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
1
Moderato  [12'51]
2
Menuetto  [2'33]
3
4
Allegro di molto  [3'02]

Reviews

'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)
Perhaps the most striking feature of No 2’s opening Moderato is the beautiful harmonic ‘purple patch’ towards the end of the exposition. After the leader has vaulted into the stratosphere, motion is suddenly suspended as the music darkens from B flat major (the dominant of the home key, E flat), through B flat minor, to a haunting, pianissimo G flat, before B flat is re-asserted with a flurry of skittering triplets. With its chromatic inner lines, the minuet is the suavest and, to our ears, the most ‘Mozartian’ in the Op 9 quartets. A few years later Haydn reused its theme as the basis of a set of keyboard variations. The rhapsodic opening of the C minor Adagio sounds like a keyboard improvisation transcribed for strings. Then, with a change to triple metre, the leader spins a sorrowful song, like an opera seria aria translated into instrumental terms. The finale’s catchy, syncopated subject turns up at the start of the development with a witty exchange of roles (the syncopations now in the cello), and then re-enters after just eight bars in the home key of E flat. But what initially seems to be one of Haydn’s ‘false recapitulations’ turns out to be the real thing after all, duly celebrated in a bout of gleeful repartee for all four instruments.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

Ce qui frappe le plus dans le Moderato inaugural du no2, c’est peut-être le superbe «morceau de bravoure» harmonique vers la fin de l’exposition. Une fois le premier violon projeté dans la stratosphère, l’élan est soudain suspendu alors que la musique s’assombrit de si bémol majeur (dominante du mi bémol principal) à un lancinant sol bémol pianissimo, via si bémol mineur, avant que si bémol ne soit réaffirmé dans une rafale de triolets ricochants. Avec ses lignes intérieures chromatiques, le menuet est le plus suave et, à nos oreilles, le plus «mozartien» de l’op. 9. Quelques années plus tard, Haydn réutilisera son thème comme base d’une série de variations pour clavier. Le début rhapsodique de l’Adagio en ut mineur tient de l’improvisation au clavier transcrite pour cordes. Puis, passant au mètre ternaire, le premier violon file un chant triste, telle une aria d’opera seria traduite en termes instrumentaux. Le sujet accrocheur, syncopé du finale survient en début de développement, avec une spirituelle inversion des rôles (les syncopes incombent désormais au violoncelle) et ressurgit au bout de seulement huit mesures dans la tonalité principale de mi bémol. Mais ce qui s’apparente d’abord à l’une de ces «fausses réexpositions» de Haydn se révèle, malgré tout, la vraie de vraie, dûment fêtée dans une série de joyeuses reparties entre les quatre instruments.

extrait des notes rédigées par Richard Wigmore © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Das vielleicht bemerkenswerteste Merkmal des einleitenden Moderato von Nr. 2 ist die schöne harmonische „Glückssträhne“ gegen Ende der Exposition. Nachdem der Primarius sich in die Stratosphäre aufgeschwungen hat, steht plötzlich alles still, wenn die Musik sich von B-Dur (der Dominante der Haupttonart Es) über b-Moll zu einem eindringlichen, pianissimo Ges-Dur verdüstert, bevor sich mit einem Gestöber jagender Triolen wieder B-Dur behauptet. Mit seinen chromatischen Binnenstimmen ist das Menuett das charmanteste und für unsere Ohren „mozartischste“ der Quartette op. 9. Einige Jahre später verwendete Haydn sein Thema erneut, diesmal als Basis für Klavier-Variationen. Die rhapsodische Einleitung des c-Moll-Adagios klingt wie eine für Streicher transkribierte Klavierimprovisation. Mit dem Wechsel zum Dreiertakt spinnt die erste Geige dann ein trauriges Lied, wie ein instrumentales Gegenstück zu einer Arie aus einer Opera seria. Das eingängige, synkopische Thema des Finales taucht am Anfang der Durchführung mit einem geistreichen Rollenaustausch (jetzt mit den Synkopen im Cello) auf, und tritt nach nur acht Takten in der Grundtonart Es-Dur wieder ein. Was zunächst wie eine der typischen „Scheinreprisen“ Haydns klingt, ist dann doch die wahre Sache und wird im fröhlichen Austausch aller vier Instrumente geziemend gefeiert.

aus dem Begleittext von Richard Wigmore © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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