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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: 19 minutes 57 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 A major, Op 20 No 6
1772; Sun Quartet No 6

Adagio cantabile  [6'22]

Other recordings available for download
Salomon Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The final quartets of Haydn’s Op 9 and Op 17 sets both open with a buoyant, alfresco movement in 6/8 ‘hunting’ rhythm. In Op 20, No 6 in A major follows suit with an irrepressible movement that outdoes its predecessors in wit and harmonic sleight-of-hand, as when the ‘second subject’ deflects from E minor to D major before working round to the anticipated key of E major. At the end of the exposition and recapitulation Haydn again evokes musette drones, with the leader playing in double stopping. The composer marked the movement scherzando, as he might well have done the dancing final fugue on three subjects. The music’s comic verve—matched among fugues only by the rollicking finale of Verdi’s Falstaff—reaches its acme when Haydn gleefully turns the principal theme on its head: the technique is ‘learned’, the effect anything but.

The middle movements of No 6 are, by Haydn’s standards, relatively well behaved. Reverting to the style of the slow movements of Op 9 and Op 17, the E major Adagio cantabile is a soulful aria for first violin, expressively embellished when the first section is repeated, and enriched by dark glints of viola colour. With its gracious succession of four-bar phrases (with the opening phrase repeated to round off the movement—one of Haydn’s beginning-as-ending puns), the minuet is the only one in Op 20 that might, just, be danced. The beautiful, veiled trio is, like that in No 1, literally a trio, though here it is the second violin who is silent while the other three instruments play sotto voce on their lowest string.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011

Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 4, 5 & 6' (CDA66622)
Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 4, 5 & 6

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