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Hyperion Records

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A Storm in the Rocky Mountains – Mt Rosalie (1866) by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67781
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: 22 minutes 28 seconds

'The musicians' excellent internal balancing allows every note and expressive gesture to speak' (Gramophone)

'Hyperion's wonderful recording … has remarkable clarity, focus and spatial realism … [Op 74 No 1] The finale … is wonderfully brought off by the Takács, with the players relishing Haydn's bravura passagework and near-orchestral sonorities, while the cello's drone-bass effects later on have real humour … there is a similarly highly-charged reading of the stunning Presto finale of Op 74 No 2, one of Haydn's virtuoso essays in quartet writing' (International Record Review)

'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)

'Led by the Englishman Edward Dusinberre—who relishes the virtuosity Haydn demanded of Salomon—the Takacs 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 … a naïve elegance pervades the Andante grazioso of Op 74 No 1, played with apparent, and deceptive, simplicity … these two discs are a constant and rewarding delight' (The Strad)

String Quartet in C major, Op 74 No 1
1793; Apponyi Quartet No 4

Allegro  [6'36]
Vivace  [5'32]

Other recordings available for download
Salomon Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first two quartets of the Op 74 triptych, composed around the same time as the Symphony No 99, also have the trio of their minuet movement in a third-related key. In Op 74 No 1, the entrance of the trio in a luminous and lyrical A major following the C major of the assertive minuet itself forms the expressive high-point of the work as a whole—a moment of melting beauty. As became his practice when setting the trio in a distant key, Haydn adds a coda that functions as a seamless join to the reprise of the minuet. In this case, however, the pianissimo coda conspicuously fails to modulate back into the minuet’s key. Instead, it remains poised on the threshold of A minor, before eventually coming to rest on a sustained single note of E. Since this is also the first note of the minuet’s theme, the da capo can begin without further ado, though the link serves only to heighten the gulf between the movement’s two sections.

In order, perhaps, to lay greater emphasis on the trio’s expressive coup, Haydn casts the quartet’s second movement not as one of his deeply felt Adagios, but as an Andantino grazioso of almost Rossinian lightness and transparency. Despite its air of insouciance, its second half contains some startling switches of key—not least, an excursion into a very remote C sharp minor near the close, after which the music is abruptly deposited back into the home key as though nothing untoward had occurred.

The finale is a piece of almost orchestral weight, particularly in the closing bars of each of its halves, which unfold above a single insistent pedal-note. In the latter half of the passage in question, the two lower instruments provide a richly scored drone bass, with the cello playing on ‘open’ strings, while the violins stomp away in octaves—the sort of moment that would have brought the house down at Salomon’s concerts. The movement begins with a play on contrasting sonorities. The main subject itself is given out as if it were to be a rondo theme, with a quasi-repeat of its initial dozen bars in which its articulation is radically changed, from largely smooth phrases to a delicate staccato assai. In the recapitulation (which enters to fine effect at the apex of a phrase, so that development and recapitulation overlap) the staccato version of the theme is reserved for a much later stage, after Haydn has characteristically indulged in further development.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2011

Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/3 & 74/1' (CDA66098)
Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/3 & 74/1

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