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Hyperion Records

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The Thames and the Tower of London supposedly on the King's Birthday (detail) (1771) by Samuel Scott (c1702-1772)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, USA / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67877
Recording details: September 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Simon Kiln
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: September 2011
Total duration: 26 minutes 52 seconds

'An ensemble unique in collective insight, in tempo-management, articulation of melodic design and assessment of harmonic weight … provocative interpretations of enthralling magnitude' (Gramophone)

'The commitment of this string quartet to one composer pays off. Their period tone suits Haydn's melodious down-to-earth writing and they capture the urbane wit and complex intelligence of Vienna's first superstar' (Classic FM)

'The players of the London Haydn Quartet, formed in 2001, refer modestly in their booklet notes to gut strings and Classical bows, saying relatively little about performing practice, but in this respect they are underselling themselves. These performances are not only emotive and truly stirring, but also hint at a good understanding of what we know of performance at the time of the 1801 Artaria edition they have chosen, with a clean yest warm sound, thoughtful stressing of dissonances, some welcome use of portamento and an intelligent and sparing use of vibrato' (The Strad)

'Their lean tone keeps everything impeccably clear, they avoid any sense of casualness, and they make the music sound austerely fresh' (The Irish Times)

String Quartet in G minor, Op 20 No 3
composer
1772; Sun Quartet No 3

Poco adagio  [7'36]
Allegro molto  [5'19]

Other recordings available for download
Salomon Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Reflecting the preoccupation with the minor mode in Haydn’s so-called Sturm und Drang symphonies of the years around 1770, the Op 20 set, uniquely, contains two minor-keyed quartets. They could hardly be more strongly contrasted. The outer movements of No 3 in G minor are astringent, nervy, sometimes bizarrely elliptical. In the opening Allegro con spirito, whose eccentric main theme (in an eccentric texture, with viola doubling first violin at the octave) comprises a four-bar plus a three-bar phrase, Haydn veers abruptly between hectic desperation and recurrent buffo-like fragments whose effect is mocking, even sinister, rather than jolly. In the exposition and development a little wriggling unison figure, like a stage aside, adds a touch of grotesquerie. The music’s waywardness reaches its climax in the recapitulation, which drastically reworks the events of the exposition and expands a brief snatch of violin recitative into an almost hysterical cri de cœur.

The desolate minuet, its unease enhanced by the pervasive five-bar phrases, is relieved by its exquisite, lulling E flat major trio. Both minuet and trio fade away strangely on the brink of C minor, an effect that Haydn replicates in the unsettling pianissimo close of the finale. Though written against the background of sonata form, the Poco adagio, in G major, is essentially a fantasy on a single ardent melody. (A rare surviving sketch for Op 20 reveals that Haydn originally conceived the melody for cello rather than first violin.) Each of its reappearances is characterized by an evocative new sonority, typical of the composer’s heightened sensitivity to tone colour throughout the Op 20 quartets.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 1, 2 & 3' (CDA66621)
Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 1, 2 & 3

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