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Hyperion Records

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A large enclosure near Dresden by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden, Germany / © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67745
Recording details: June 2008
St Paul's Church, Deptford, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2009
Total duration: 13 minutes 47 seconds

'The Nash musicians play everything so delightfully, with such perfect control and subtle shadings … the String Quintet offers the best music: as for playing, the crown's won by Lawrence Power and Paul Watkins in the Duo' (The Times)

'As one would expect, the performances by The Nash Ensemble are exemplary—in the Quartet, the superb Ian Brown is as ever the epitome of how a pianist should approach the performance of chamber music (listening to colleagues and integrating with them), but his string-playing colleagues are every bit attuned to the music and each other, Lawrence Power and Paul Watkins enjoying the domesticity of the 'royal duo'' (ClassicalSource.com)

Duett mit zwei obligaten Augengläsern in E flat major 'Eyeglass Duo', WoO32
composer
composed in autumn 1796 for cellist Baron Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanowecz, him to compose with the composer (viola); the title refers to them both wearing glasses

Allegro  [9'09]
Minuetto  [4'38]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The ‘Eyeglass‘ Duo was born in a spirit of friendship. Baron Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanowecz, a talented amateur cellist (and the frequent butt of Beethoven’s notorious ‘unbuttoned’ humour), was one of several aristocratic friends who regularly advised the composer in practical matters such as where to obtain the best quills. Beethoven would later reward him with the dedication of the F minor String Quartet, Op 95. Much earlier, during the autumn of 1796, he had written for Zmeskall the jokily titled ‘Duet with two obbligato eyeglasses’ in E flat for viola, played by the composer himself, and cello—a reference to the fact that both men needed to wear glasses while playing. Like the contemporaneous Piano Quartet, the two completed movements of the ‘Eyeglass’ Duo, an Allegro and minuet (a brief sketch for a slow movement survives), reveal the young firebrand at his most gracious and amenable. From the outset, with the main theme sounded first by viola, then by cello, the two instruments are treated as absolute equals. In the minuet, with its pawky canonic trio, Beethoven suddenly pulls the rug from under the listener’s feet by veering from E flat to a remote C flat—just the kind of comic-mysterious effect he had learnt from Haydn.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

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