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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDS44001/3
Recording details: September 1985
St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Thomas Daye
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: June 1987
Total duration: 29 minutes 38 seconds

'Admirers of the Salomon Quartet's 'authentic' approach to Mozart will be glad to learn that their versions of the 'Haydn' Quartets … are now available in a 3-CD boxed set at a slightly reduced price' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'They strike me as the musical equivalent of a breath of fresh spring air' (The Records and Recording)

String Quartet in E flat major, K428
composer
'Haydn' Quartet No 3

Allegro non troppo  [10'12]
Andante con moto  [8'33]
Allegro vivace  [5'21]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
By the time he came to compose the E flat major Quartet, K428, Mozart seems to have felt that Haydn’s ‘new and special style’ of musical discourse was now his own, and that the time was right for further exploration. The opening unison theme of K428 is remarkable for its chromatic enrichment of the tonic triad, and this sets the pattern for many of the movement’s subsequent harmonic adventures. Particularly subtle is the way Mozart uses a canonic version of this theme to set in motion the rapid, dramatic modulations of the develop­ment section. Even so, nothing in this movement is quite as striking as the yearning chromaticisms in the second group of the Andante—strongly suggestive of the opening of Wagner’s Tristan Prelude. Nor is this a single isolated example: the movement as a whole derives its dark colouring from the frequent use of richly dissonant suspensions and passing notes—all the more effective for having been prefigured in the first four bars of the Quartet.

The harmonic language of the Minuet is much simpler—unusually so for Mozart; in fact the style and mood of this movement are strikingly reminiscent of Haydn, in particular the Minuet of the E flat major Quartet Op 33 No 2. Mozart’s Trio even manages a gentle Haydn­esque joke—the initial implication of C minor is smartly contradicted by a sforzando chord of B flat in bar eight. This kind of playfulness dominates the finale—a sort of compromise between conventional sonata and rondo forms. The opening theme approaches on tiptoe, in broken quavers, and the listener is completely unpre­pared for the explosion of first violin brilliance that follows. In the coda this strangely fragmentary little idea suddenly acquires completely new significance as the accompaniment to a soaring first violin line. Such lyricism is short-lived, however, and the movement ends with four staccato chords—first cautiously, pianissimo, then—emphatically—forte.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 1991

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