Hyperion Records

String Quartet in D major, Op 20 No 4
composer
1772; Sun Quartet No 4

Recordings
'Haydn: String Quartets Op 20' (CDA67877)
Haydn: String Quartets Op 20
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'Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 4, 5 & 6' (CDA66622)
Haydn: Sun Quartets Nos 4, 5 & 6
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Details
Movement 1: Allegro di molto
Track 1 on CDA67877 CD2 [10'55] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 1 on CDA66622 [12'17] Archive Service
Movement 2: Un poco adagio affettuoso
Track 2 on CDA67877 CD2 [10'58] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 2 on CDA66622 [9'53] Archive Service
Movement 3: Menuetto: Allegretto alla zingarese
Track 3 on CDA67877 CD2 [1'51] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 3 on CDA66622 [2'13] Archive Service
Movement 4: Presto scherzando
Track 4 on CDA67877 CD2 [6'22] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 4 on CDA66622 [7'01] Archive Service

String Quartet in D major, Op 20 No 4
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No 4 in D major is the most obviously ‘tuneful’ of Op 20, looking ahead to later Haydn in its incorporation of popular-style melodies. The expansive yet sinewy opening Allegro di molto makes mysterious/dramatic capital of its initial ‘drum’ motif, always likely to pivot the music to an unexpected tonal area. With the instruments often paired in mellifluous thirds and sixths (as in the dialogues between upper and lower voices in the second group of themes), the textures sound more ‘Mozartian’ to us than usual in Haydn’s quartets. As in several of his symphonies from the 1770s, Haydn brings back the opening theme in the home key quite near the start of the development, a ploy that might fool the unwary (though hardly the connoisseurs in his select audience) into thinking that the recapitulation has actually arrived.

The poignant D minor Un poco adagio affettuoso is Haydn’s only variation movement cast entirely in the minor key (and there is no parallel in Mozart or Beethoven). The second half of the theme, with each instrument rising slowly by step, reaches an almost excruciating pitch of intensity. Of the three variations, the first is fashioned as a fretful dialogue between second violin and viola, the second exploits the cello over its whole compass, and the third dissolves the theme into triplets for the first violin. After a reprise of the original theme, shorn of its repeats, Haydn expands the scale in an astonishing, unprecedented fantasia-cum-coda that stresses the dissonant melodic shapes within the theme and, in the fragmentary final bars, pushes the music to the brink of incoherence.

Returning to a world of robust normality, the minuet, Allegretto alla zingarese (‘gypsy-style’), and Presto scherzando finale mine Haydn’s favourite Hungarian gypsy vein with irresistible wit and élan. In the former a riot of offbeat accents keep the listener guessing as to whether this is a minuet or a gavotte. In pointed contrast, the trio deals in perfectly regular four-bar phrases, with a jaunty cello solo against the simplest of accompaniments. The finale lives up to its scherzando billing in music of controlled waywardness and harmonic surprise, treating its impish opening motif in the free, informal contrapuntal textures that are among the chief delights of Haydn’s mature quartet style.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67877 disc 2 track 4
Presto scherzando
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-11-87716
Duration
6'22
Recording date
10 September 2010
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Simon Kiln
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Haydn: String Quartets Op 20 (CDA67877)
    Disc 2 Track 4
    Release date: September 2011
    2CDs for the price of 1
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