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Hyperion Records

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Passing Storm in Yosemite (1865) by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
Private Collection / © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67793
Recording details: February 2011
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2011
Total duration: 20 minutes 9 seconds

'Takács Quartet delivers these works with commanding verve and style, often casting novel perspectives on pieces which deserve to be far better known than they actually are … Op 71 No 2 has at its heart one of the most radiant Adagio slow movements to be found among Haydn's later quartets … and it is played here with exceptionally beautiful tone and unerring refinement by the Takács Quartet' (Gramophone)

'Structure and integrity of feeling are heard here in abundance … they unfold the Adagio cantabile of the Quartet in D major, Op 71 No 2 with an unhurried fullness and luminosity … these readings never sound mannered, but alive' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The musicians' clarity of line and perfect balance, well reflected in Hyperion's recording … after these magnificent CDs, if the Takács wanted to record Haydn's other 62 quartets, I wouldn't raise a hand to stop them' (The Times)

'Now led by the Englishman Edward Dusinberre—who relishes the Haydn virtuosity demanded of Salomon—the Takács play this ever-surprising music with their characteristic imagination, contrapuntal rigour, sensitivity to texture and colour, and, in the dizzying finales, wit. They are the epitome of Goethe's four intelligent conversationalists, always fresh in their response to Haydn's astonishing inventiveness' (The Sunday Times)

'Does it need saying that they're awfully good? Here is Haydn in all his inexhaustible moods and guises … a constant source of wonder … the Takács players have the magical gift of playing them so that they seem absolutely right … in the opening Adagio of Op 71 No 2, rich broken chords—no attacking crunches here—punctuate a line of soft and delicious anticipation leading into the open-hearted high jinks of the Allegro … a constant and rewarding delight' (The Strad)

String Quartet in B flat major, Op 71 No 1
composer
Apponyi Quartet No 1

Allegro  [6'56]
Adagio  [5'01]
Vivace  [5'02]

Other recordings available for download
Salomon Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
More decisive and emphatic than the single-chord beginning of Op 71 No 3 are the opening bars of the B flat major first quartet in the series: five thickly scored fortissimo chords, with the upper three instruments playing in double stops throughout, and the final chord, planting the music firmly in the home key, containing no fewer than ten notes. This is altogether one of Haydn’s most ebullient pieces, with the music impatiently releasing its pent-up energy even before the main subject has been allowed to run its full course. Although the initial chords stand outside the main framework of the movement they return in an altered form to round off the exposition, so that when the repeat is made they again preface the main subject. As so often with Haydn, the second subject is a variant of the first, the chief contrast in this case being one of articulation: while the first subject echoes the dry staccato of the initial series of chords, the second is gentler and more expressive, and accompanied by smooth ascending scales.

The theme of the slow movement, in siciliano-like rhythm, has the lower pair of instruments in a smooth, yearning ascent, and the first violin’s melody descending to meet them. Following a murmuring middle section that takes the music into ‘flatter’ regions, the initial melody returns, this time with its individual phrases prefaced by a grace note, like a kind of expressive glottal stop. In the closing bars, the murmuring sound of the middle section makes itself briefly felt again, before the music fades away into the distance.

The minuet shows Haydn’s wit at its most sophisticated, with the opening six-bar theme immediately restated in full, but harmonized entirely differently. Moreover, at the end, the music’s texture is inverted, so that the initial cello accompaniment now appears at the top, and the theme beneath it.

The finale is as energetic as the opening movement, with rapid repeated notes played by bouncing the bow off the string, and passages of gypsy exuberance that have syncopated inner parts and a drone-like bass line. If the central development section is unusually brief, Haydn more than makes amends by incorporating a lengthy developmental passage into the recapitulation, in a manner typical of his late style. Despite the high jinx of the piece as a whole, Haydn surprisingly allows it to draw to a pianissimo close—the only subdued ending to be found among the six ‘Salomon’ quartets.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/1 & 71/2' (CDA66065)
Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/1 & 71/2

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