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Hyperion Records

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Landscape (1827) by Friedrich Rosenberg (1758-1833)
Kunsthalle, Hamburg / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67464
Recording details: February 2004
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2005
Total duration: 23 minutes 52 seconds

'The talented members of the pan-European Gaudier Ensemble are perfectly equipped to convey these different aspects of Weber's musical personality … With a top-quality recording, this is a disc which does full and thoroughly entertaining justice to a still underrated master' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Gaudier's performances are thoroughly enjoyable: gracefully shaped, rhythmically exuberant and relishing the music's sense of fun. In the Clarinet Quintet, Richard Hosford negotiates his pirouettes and vertiginous leaps with aplomb. The tricky instrumental balances in the trio and quartet are expertly managed, while pianist Susan Tomes's scintillating fingerwork is a delight throughout' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Richard Hosford is the ideal soloist here, supple and silky, with beautiful tone: and his intensely delicate, only-just-audible pianissimi in the slow movement are a joy to hear … the work altogether is a little masterpiece which deserves to be much better known. Hopefully this excellent disc, so beautifully played and recorded, will do much to disseminate it' (International Record Review)

Piano Quartet in B flat major, J76 Op 18

Allegro  [9'32]
Finale: Presto  [6'00]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
When in 1807, at the age of twenty, Weber arrived in Stuttgart to take up a post as secretary to Duke Ludwig of Württemberg, he brought with him the Adagio of his Piano Quartet in B flat major, J76. It was already his custom to write his slow movements first, following them with a finale; only later would a first movement be added, or sometimes never written at all so that there are works which remain simply ‘Adagio and Rondo’. This reflects his lack of sympathy for the classical discipline of sonata form in an opening movement, and his greater attraction both to Romantic explorations into new areas of harmony and colour, and to increased instrumental virtuosity. Most originally, the Piano Quartet’s Adagio is less concerned with themes or melodies than with such unusual gestures as the opening chords on the strings answered by a piano flourish, or the effect of throbbing piano chords against impassioned, wide-ranging string phrases, or, in the wild central section, a chordal progression with forceful violin leaps against a murmurous running figure on his beloved viola. The balance between piano and strings in chamber music is notoriously tricky; with his devotion to novel textures and his acute ear, the inexperienced Weber has found his way to some fascinating solutions.

The Allegro which he added to open the Piano Quartet is also unusual. Though it is cast in sonata form, Weber abandons convention as soon as he interestingly can. This is most evident at the start of the development. For classical composers, this was generally the section in which the most inventive working out of themes would take place. Weber is less attracted to this than to finding new themes in unexpected ways. None is more beautiful than the singing viola melody to which the other strings and the piano defer. His recapitulation is more regular, and ends with a graceful gesture to the opening of the whole movement. Even in the Menuetto, which follows the Adagio, there are metrical and harmonic surprises, as Weber answers his soft, uneven opening phrases violently and in an unexpected key (A flat in the key of G minor). He goes even further in the trio section, in the middle of which a forceful return of the opening rhythm drives the music into another startlingly remote key, G flat. His finale is a pianistic tour de force, serving notice that here, barely out of his teens, was one of the pioneering artists of Romantic virtuosity. The Quartet was completed on 25 September 1809.

from notes by John Warrack © 2005

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