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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: 22 minutes 52 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 E flat major, Op 9 No 2
composer
c1769; recorded from the 1790 Longman and Broderip edition

Moderato  [12'51]
Menuetto  [2'33]
Allegro di molto  [3'02]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
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

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