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Track(s) taken from CDA67611

String Quartet in C major, Op 9 No 1

c1769; recorded from the 1790 Longman and Broderip edition

The London Haydn Quartet
Recording details: February 2007
St Paul's Church, Deptford, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: October 2007
Total duration: 23 minutes 18 seconds

Cover artwork: Vauxhall Gardens: The Grand Walk with the Orchestra Playing by Samuel Wale (1721-1786)
Museum of London / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'I quickly warmed to the pure, glowing sound of gut strings played perfectly in tune, and to the ensemble's delicacy of nuance and sensitivity to harmonic colour, treating the listener as a privileged eavesdropper … Catherine Manson is a graceful and nimble leader … the results are delightfully witty and spirited. Recorded in the warm, sympatheic acoustic of St Paul's Deptford, these performances should win new friends for an undeservedly neglected set' (Gramophone)

'A sonority that seems brighter and less astringent than that produced by 'period' ensembles, but one that is still far closer to what we assume to be the timbre of an eighteenth-century quartet … Hyperion's sound is ideal: close, clear and free of harshness and any intrusive breathing. In short, this is an interesting and possibly controversial release, but one that shows The London Haydn Quartet to be thoughtful, provocative and technically accomplished' (International Record Review)

'Without a doubt one of the all-time great Haydn quartet recordings … the original instrument London Haydn Quartet play Op 9 with such deep feeling, dynamic subtlety and phrasal sensitivity that even the simplest of ideas become things of wonder. Passages of generic cadencing and decoration that often pass by unacknowledged by other ensembles sound utterly magical here, the enhanced expressive flexibility of gut strings revelled in to the full' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The London Haydn Quartet plays lovely period instruments in a gentle manner, emphasizing the beauty of the music—highly evocative' (Fanfare, USA)

'On this superb double disc set from Hyperion, the London Haydn Quartet's playing of the set is intense, passionate and revelatory. It is difficult to imagine finer interpretations of these occasionally formulaic but always melodically colourful works. The quartet—comprising Catherine Manson and Margaret Faultless on violin, James Boyd on viola and Jonathan Cohen on cello—play on gut strings with classical bows. There is to be found none of the reserve or prissiness that can sometimes characterise period performance. The sound here is bright, resonant and gritty, the lack of vibrato adding a spicy, piquant tang to the ensemble timbre. The bowing is confident; tempi are firm and steady, yet subtle inflections and rhythmic manipulations crank up the drama to breaking point' (MusicOHM.com)
The first movement of No 1 exploits the sonorous richness characteristic of string music in C major, founded on the distinctive resonance of the cello’s open C string, not least in the musette-like drones near the beginning. Its narrative is dominated by the boldly plunging opening theme, immediately varied by the first violin (scope here for Tomasini’s fantasy) and later reworked in imitative dialogue as a ‘second subject’. Deep pedal points feature prominently both here and in the minuet, where Haydn plays one of his favourite games: an opening phrase that serves equally well as a closing gesture. The glumly inscrutable trio, in C minor, never comes to a formal close, but instead hovers on the dominant of C, underpinned by yet another cello pedal point. In the beguiling, siciliano-style Adagio the second violin occasionally adds its own voice to the leader’s increasingly ornate serenade. The Presto finale bursts in with an exuberant, leaping theme that Mozart surely remembered in the finale of his ‘Linz’ Symphony, and continues with lively repartee on a sinuous chromatic figure. But whereas in later years Haydn would have exploited the contrapuntal potential of the main theme, here the development is largely given over to toccata-style fireworks for Tomasini.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007

Le premier mouvement du no1 exploite la richesse sonore propre à la musique pour cordes en ut majeur, fondée sur la résonance particulière de la corde d’ut à vide du violoncelle, comme l’attestent surtout les bourdons de type musette, près du début. Sa narration est dominée par le thème d’ouverture hardiment plongeant, immédiatement varié par le premier violon (ici, libre cours à la fantaisie de Tomasini) et refaçonné, plus tard, en dialogue imitatif («second sujet»). De profondes pédales saillent et ici et dans le menuet, où Haydn nous sert une de ses astuces préférées: une phrase d’ouverture qui fait aussi office de geste conclusif. Le trio tristement insondable, en ut mineur, ne s’arrête jamais formellement et reste plutôt suspendu sur la dominante d’ut, étayée par une autre pédale au violoncelle. Dans le séduisant Adagio en style de sicilienne, le second violon joint parfois sa voix à la sérénade toujours plus ornée du premier violon. Le finale Presto explose avec un thème exubérant, bondissant—Mozart se le rappellera dans le finale de sa Symphonie «Linz»—et se poursuit avec une repartie animée sur une sinueuse figure chromatique. Un Haydn plus âgé aurait exploité le potentiel contrapuntique du thème principal, mais ici, le développement est largement consacré à des feux d’artifice façon toccata destinés à Tomasini.

extrait des notes rédigées par Richard Wigmore © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Der erste Satz von Nr. 1 nutzt die charakteristisch reiche Klangfülle von Streichermusik in C-Dur aus, die auf der markanten Resonanz der leeren C-Saite des Cellos beruht, nicht zuletzt im musettenhaften Bordun kurz nach Anfang. Sein Verlauf wird durch das kühn abstürzende Anfangsthema dominiert, das sofort von der ersten Violine variiert (Spielraum für Tomasinis Phantasie) und später in imitativem Dialog als „zweites Thema“ umgearbeitet wird. Tiefe Orgelpunkte sind sowohl hier wie im Menuett prominent vertreten, wo Haydn eines seiner Lieblingsspiele spielt: eine Anfangsphrase zu erfinden, die genauso gut als Schlussgeste fungieren kann. Das launisch-undurchschaubare Trio in c-Moll kommt nie zu einem förmlichen Ende, sondern schwebt stattdessen auf der Dominante von C, die wiederum von einem Cello-Orgelpunkt untermauert wird. Für das schmeichlerische Adagio im Sizilianostil fügt die zweite Violine gelegentlich der zunehmend zierreicheren Serenade des Primarius ihre eigene Stimme hinzu. Das Presto-Finale bricht mit einem überschwänglichen, sprunghaften Thema herein, an das sich Mozart bestimmt im Finale seiner „Linzer“ Symphonie erinnerte, und setzt sich mit einem lebhaften Austausch über einer gewundenen chromatischen Figur fort. Aber während Haydn in späteren Jahren das kontrapunktische Potential des Hauptthemas ausgebeutet hätte, wird die Durchführung hier weitgehend toccatenhaftem Feuerwerk für Tomasini überlassen.

aus dem Begleittext von Richard Wigmore © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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