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String Quartet in B flat major, Op 71 No 1
Apponyi Quartet No 1

'Haydn: String Quartets Op 71' (CDA67793)
Haydn: String Quartets Op 71
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'Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/1 & 71/2' (CDA66065)
Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71/1 & 71/2
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66065  Archive Service  
Movement 1: Allegro
Track 1 on CDA67793 [6'56]
Track 1 on CDA66065 [9'06] Archive Service
Movement 2: Adagio
Track 2 on CDA67793 [5'01]
Track 2 on CDA66065 [5'58] Archive Service
Movement 3: Menuetto: Allegretto
Track 3 on CDA67793 [3'10]
Track 3 on CDA66065 [3'56] Archive Service
Movement 4: Vivace
Track 4 on CDA67793 [5'02]
Track 4 on CDA66065 [6'45] Archive Service

String Quartet in B flat major, Op 71 No 1
More decisive and emphatic than the single-chord beginning of Op 71 No 3 are the opening bars of the B flat major first quartet in the series: five thickly scored fortissimo chords, with the upper three instruments playing in double stops throughout, and the final chord, planting the music firmly in the home key, containing no fewer than ten notes. This is altogether one of Haydn’s most ebullient pieces, with the music impatiently releasing its pent-up energy even before the main subject has been allowed to run its full course. Although the initial chords stand outside the main framework of the movement they return in an altered form to round off the exposition, so that when the repeat is made they again preface the main subject. As so often with Haydn, the second subject is a variant of the first, the chief contrast in this case being one of articulation: while the first subject echoes the dry staccato of the initial series of chords, the second is gentler and more expressive, and accompanied by smooth ascending scales.

The theme of the slow movement, in siciliano-like rhythm, has the lower pair of instruments in a smooth, yearning ascent, and the first violin’s melody descending to meet them. Following a murmuring middle section that takes the music into ‘flatter’ regions, the initial melody returns, this time with its individual phrases prefaced by a grace note, like a kind of expressive glottal stop. In the closing bars, the murmuring sound of the middle section makes itself briefly felt again, before the music fades away into the distance.

The minuet shows Haydn’s wit at its most sophisticated, with the opening six-bar theme immediately restated in full, but harmonized entirely differently. Moreover, at the end, the music’s texture is inverted, so that the initial cello accompaniment now appears at the top, and the theme beneath it.

The finale is as energetic as the opening movement, with rapid repeated notes played by bouncing the bow off the string, and passages of gypsy exuberance that have syncopated inner parts and a drone-like bass line. If the central development section is unusually brief, Haydn more than makes amends by incorporating a lengthy developmental passage into the recapitulation, in a manner typical of his late style. Despite the high jinx of the piece as a whole, Haydn surprisingly allows it to draw to a pianissimo close—the only subdued ending to be found among the six ‘Salomon’ quartets.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2011

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