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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDS44001/3
Recording details: December 1986
Seldon Hall, Haberdashers' Aske's School, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Thomas Daye
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: February 1988
Total duration: 31 minutes 48 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 B flat major 'The Hunt', K458
'Haydn' Quartet No 4

Menuetto  [3'49]
Adagio  [6'44]
Allegro assai  [9'35]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
K458’s opening theme, a jaunty 6/8 ‘horn-call’, has earned the Quartet the nickname ‘The Hunt’, useful perhaps as a thematic aide memoire, but rather less appropriate to the work as a whole. Still, there is a kind bucolic charm about the first movement; the quiet tune that opens the development section, with its characteristic ‘yodelling’ sixths, has prompted more than one writer to speak of shepherd pipes. It’s difficult to believe that this appealingly straightforward music could have caused Mozart particular difficulties, but, as the Mozart scholar Alan Tyson has shown, K458 occupied him for over a year, and there were a number of false starts.

A comparatively short Minuet follows. Its irregular phrase structures tease the ear, if gently, though the first section adds up to a conventional eight-bar period: here the irregularity is only on the surface. A few well placed sforzandi provide occasional touches of humour in the Trio, but on the whole Mozart prefers to charm rather than startle his listeners.

With the Adagio, K458 moves onto a different plane. An arresting opening theme in E flat major—once again alternating ‘piano’ and ‘sforzando’ markings—leads, via a long and elegantly decorated violin line, to a rapt second subject in B flat, with violin answered tellingly by high cello. There is no development section; the ideas simply return in the original order, the beautiful violin and cello theme now in the tonic. A brief coda brings the music to an affecting close.

As in the first two movements, everything in the finale is good-humoured and relatively uncomplicated. This was Mozart’s second attempt at a finale for K458: the original, in the style of a polonaise, got as far as the 65th bar before Mozart realized that it wasn’t what he wanted.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 1991

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