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Hyperion Records

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View of St Dunstan's in Fleet Street by Samuel Scott (c1702-1772)
Private Collection / Photo © Rafael Valls Gallery, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67955
Recording details: June 2012
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs & Robert Cammidge
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 20 minutes 1 seconds

'The lovely plangency of gut strings … the many examples of Haydn's wit are laid out with an audible twinkle in the eye. The musicians know how to have gentle fun together—and they seem happy to welcome interested listeners in to share it with them' (Gramophone)

'As in their previous releases, these four players led by Catherine Manson deliver an amazing precision of intonation and articulation' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Lucky Haydn, lucky Haydn lovers … great clarity to textures and there are many exquisitely shaded ends to phrases among the innumerable brilliant moments' (Early Music Review)

'The LHQ are gradually working their way through the mature Haydn quartets, and proving ideal companions in this eventful music … they revel in Haydn's ever-inventive scherzos and zany prestos, with dazzling playing from their leader, Catherine Manson, in the 'Joke' and 'Bird' quartets. Available in a two-for-one deal, this delectable set is a bargain, too' (The Sunday Times)

'These refined performances profile the music’s conversational sophistication and its sheer fluency, underscoring Haydn's gift for civility and wit' (Financial Times)

String Quartet in B flat major, Op 33 No 4
'Russian' Quartet No 4

Allegro moderato  [7'46]
Largo  [4'28]
Presto  [4'24]

Other recordings available for download
Salomon Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Of all the Op 33 quartets, No 4 in B flat major is probably the least played, perhaps because the puckish first movement, beginning as if in the middle of a phrase, is less varied in texture than the other opening movements of Op 33. The development consists largely of modulating sequences for the first violin above repetitions of a nagging three-note figure derived from the end of the main theme. But the music is full of Haydnesque wit and élan, not least when the moment of recapitulation again takes the listener unawares. The Scherzo—for once a minuet in all but name—is the most regular and courtly of the dance movements in Op 33. Its enigmatic B flat minor trio hints at the melody of the main section in shadowy outline.

The jewel of the quartet is the rapt E flat major Largo, with its soaring violin cantilena and gorgeous remote modulations. More than any other slow movement in Op 33, the music looks ahead fifteen years to the profound meditations in Haydn’s Op 76 quartets. Sentiment is gleefully banished in the finale, a whirlwind rondo that varies its catchy contredanse theme on each return. In the second episode, in G minor, Haydn mines his favourite Hungarian gypsy vein, as he had done in the ‘Bird’. Again the movement disintegrates into slapstick. After a distended, spidery version of the theme and a failed attempt to ‘normalize’ it, Haydn cuts his losses and exits with an absurd simplification of the tune, played pizzicato. Back in the 1760s, po-faced critics from Berlin and Hamburg had taken Haydn to task for ‘debasing the art with comic fooling’. Two decades later he was still at it.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: String Quartets Opp 33/4-6 & 42' (CDA66682)
Haydn: String Quartets Opp 33/4-6 & 42

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