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Hyperion Records

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The Thames and the Tower of London supposedly on the King's Birthday (detail) (1771) by Samuel Scott (c1702-1772)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, USA / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67722
Recording details: August 2008
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: June 2009
Total duration: 21 minutes 56 seconds

'These musicians arrest attention by the variety of their bowing and articulation. They lean into notes, swelling and contracting the sound … to heighten the potential for expression … a very imaginative interpretation' (Gramophone)

'Those who want a 'period' performance should not hesitate—they are unlikely to hear any better of its kind. Articulation is light, precise yet full of nuance; vibrato is scarcely detectable yet intonation is immaculate; the whole texture shines' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Playing with gut strings and classical bows, the London Haydn Quartet bring both freshness and depth to the six works that the composer wrote at Esterhazy in 1771' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Gut strings sometimes mean sour intonation, but not with this superb British group. Formed out of love for Haydn, they explore his repertoire with a light touch and kaleidoscopic colours. This second Hyperion survey brings the six Op 17 quartets … crammed with subtle pleasures. A set to bring long-lasting pleasure' (The Times)

'This splendid recording … Catherine Manson brings a nice rubato to the violin's flight in the first movement of Quartet No 5, and makes the most of the operatic recitative in the Adagio' (Classic FM Magazine)

'These superb LHQ performances set the standard for Haydn interpretation, yet the two CDs are available for the price of one' (MusicWeb International)

String Quartet in G major, Op 17 No 5
1771; recorded from the London edition published by Welcker circa 1774

Moderato  [10'36]
Adagio  [5'14]
Presto  [3'23]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The sturdy opening of the G major quartet, No 5, with its flicking ‘Scotch snap’ rhythms, points the way to the more egalitarian textures of the famous Op 20 set by quickly involving all four instruments in the motivic interplay. Then, near the end of the exposition, Haydn gives Tomasini his head in a bravura passage of double-stopping. To offset the expansive development, ending with a quasi-improvisatory passage for solo first violin, the recapitulation drastically compresses the events of the exposition. The tangy minuet, full of metrically disruptive canonic imitations, encloses an inscrutable G minor trio that leads back without a break into the minuet. G minor is also the key of the Adagio, where the first violin impersonates an imploring opera seria heroine in alternating arioso and recitative, the latter uncannily foreshadowing the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Haydn exploits the catchy theme of the finale, given a gentle rhythmic ‘kick’ by the viola, with impish wit, right through to the conspiratorial pianissimo ending.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

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