Movement 1: Allegretto
Movement 2: Menuetto: Allegretto
Movement 3: Adagio
Movement 4: Allegretto
An advertisement survives for the ‘Hoffmeister’ Quartet in which the publisher wrote that it was written ‘with that fire of the imagination and that correctness which long since won for Herr M. the reputation of one of the best composers in Germany’. He added that even the Minuet was ‘composed with an ingenuity (being interwoven with canonic imitations) that one not infrequently finds wanting in other such compositions’. The ‘ingenuity’ that Hoffmeister responded to was the ability, demonstrated to a high degree in Haydn’s Opus 33, to combine the two idioms of the contemporary string quartet: the light, divertimento-like quality of, say, Mozart’s own early works in the form, and the serious, contrapuntal tradition of the mainstream Viennese quartet, exemplified by works by Monn, Albrechtsberger and Gassmann. In the new quartet style the melodies are supported not just by harmony, but by accompanying motifs that have their own role to play in the musical argument; it was a civilised discourse between equals, rather than a monologue or a four-way dispute.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1991