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String Quartet in D major, Op 33 No 6
'Russian' Quartet No 6; the Schmitt Edition (Amsterdam, 1782) presents the inner movements in reversed order and uses different tempo markings than other editions

'Haydn: String Quartets Op 33' (CDA67955)
Haydn: String Quartets Op 33
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'Haydn: String Quartets Opp 33/4-6 & 42' (CDA66682)
Haydn: String Quartets Opp 33/4-6 & 42
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Movement 1: Vivace assai
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Track 9 on CDA66682 [6'14] Archive Service
Movement 2: Andante
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Movement 2: Scherzo: Allegro
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Movement 3: Adagio
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Movement 3: Scherzo: Allegro
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Movement 4: Andante
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Movement 4: Finale: Allegretto
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String Quartet in D major, Op 33 No 6
The opening Vivace assai of No 6 in D major also evidently appealed to Mozart, who echoed its mingled alfresco exuberance and quicksilver motivic development in his ‘Hunt’ Quartet, K458. This is the most puckishly inventive of all Haydn’s hunting movements, truly democratic in texture (in contrast to the first-violin-dominated No 4), with a sense of delighted colloquy as the players second or undercut each other’s ideas. Haydn blurs the division between development and recapitulation via a breathtaking excursion into remote keys: not for the only time in these quartets, wit is transfigured to poetry.

Subversive comedy continues in the Scherzo, with its crazy offbeat accents and imitative entries: in a game of musical chairs, the viola ends up stranded with the opening motif. The trio restores rhythmic decorum, beginning as a lolloping cello solo before morphing into a canonic duet for first violin and viola. As in Op 33 No 5, the slow movement is usually placed second, but in Schmitt’s Amsterdam edition comes third. Again it is in the tonic minor key, with something of a Baroque flavour. But the texture is more varied and complex than in No 5. Above the opening theme, gravely intoned by second violin and viola, the first violin’s sustained high A recreates the vocal technique of messa di voce (literally ‘placing the voice’), involving a perfectly controlled gradual swelling and ebbing of the tone, and indispensable to any eighteenth-century singer’s armoury.

As in No 5, Haydn offsets a fast first movement with a relaxed variation finale. This is the earliest example in his quartets of his favourite ‘double variation’ form, with alternating sections of major and minor. The D minor theme, initiated by the cello, is a classic instance of the free, informal counterpoint that is one of the glories of Op 33.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2013

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Details for CDA66682 track 12
Finale: Allegretto
Recording date
13 March 1992
Recording venue
Recording producer
Roy Mowatt
Recording engineer
Keith Warren
Hyperion usage
  1. Haydn: String Quartets Opp 33/4-6 & 42 (CDA66682)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: May 1993
    Archive Service
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