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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66458
Recording details: September 1990
Kimpton Parish Church, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: April 1991
Total duration: 34 minutes 50 seconds

String Quartet in D major 'Hoffmeister', K499
composer

Allegretto  [14'00]
Adagio  [8'10]
Allegretto  [9'08]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Mozart‘s Quartet in D major is known to us as the ‘Hoffmeister’, K499, so called because it was issued in Vienna in 1786 by the publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812). Hoffmeister was also a composer and had started a publishing firm two years before to print his own music; he soon expanded the business to include orchestral works and sets of chamber music by his contemporaries, including Haydn, Vanhal, Albrechtsberger and Mozart. Mozart and Hoffmeister were friends and fellow-Freemasons. Their dealings apparently began in the autumn of 1785, when Hoffmeister published Mozart’s G minor Piano Quartet, K478. Mozart based one of the movements of his Flute Quartet in A major, K298, written sometime in 1786/7, on a song by Hoffmeister.

An advertisement survives for the ‘Hoffmeister’ Quartet in which the publisher wrote that it was written ‘with that fire of the imagination and that correctness which long since won for Herr M. the reputation of one of the best composers in Germany’. He added that even the Minuet was ‘composed with an ingenuity (being interwoven with canonic imitations) that one not infrequently finds wanting in other such compositions’. The ‘ingenuity’ that Hoffmeister responded to was the ability, demonstrated to a high degree in Haydn’s Opus 33, to combine the two idioms of the contemporary string quartet: the light, divertimento-like quality of, say, Mozart’s own early works in the form, and the serious, contrapuntal tradition of the mainstream Viennese quartet, exemplified by works by Monn, Albrechtsberger and Gassmann. In the new quartet style the melodies are supported not just by harmony, but by accompanying motifs that have their own role to play in the musical argument; it was a civilised discourse between equals, rather than a monologue or a four-way dispute.

from notes by Peter Holman © 1991

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