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Haydn: String Quartets / Doric String Quartet

Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Wigmore Hall Live   Catalog #: 32   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Doric String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HAYDN String Quartets: op. 9/4; op. 50/2; op. 76/1; op. 50/1 (Finale) Doric String Quartet WIGMORE HALL LIVE 0032 (72:22) Live: London 1/15/2009

Alex Redington and Jonathan Stone (violins), Simon Tandree (viola), and John Myerscough (cello) are the current members of the 10-year-old, British-based Doric Quartet. Their studies included working with members of the Alban Berg, Artemis, Hagen, Read more and LaSalle quartets, and working with György Kurtág. Haydn has been one of their favorite composers, as witnessed by this all-Haydn concert that must hold audience attention for about 70 minutes (not a problem for this listener). The playing here minimizes use of vibrato, which benefits Haydn.

The early op. 9/4 in D Minor is not as familiar a quartet as those of op. 20 and beyond, but serves as a good opener for a program that includes a midlife quartet and a quartet of the composer’s final years. Only two other of Haydn’s 76 string quartets (excluding the Seven Last Words ) are in D Minor—the lone op. 42 and op. 76/2. The early D-Minor quartet by the already 37-year-old composer is a mixture of profundity appropriate to the chosen key and of exploratory writing in this new-to-the-art musical medium. The C-Major quartet (op. 50/2) that follows is most remembered for its sprightly Vivace assai final movement. By concluding the program with the mature op. 76/1 G-Major quartet, the first of Haydn’s six responses to Mozart’s six quartets dedicated to Haydn, the Doric String Quartet provided the attendees with a great evening (or perhaps afternoon) of chamber music. The suitably chosen encore, the op. 50/1 Vivace finale, completed (and for us disc possessors, repeatedly completes) an all-Haydn concert with a memorably tuneful movement.

The Doric’s approach to Haydn lays bare his quirky humor and surprising modulations. Inner part-writing is clearly discernable. The only reservation I have is first violin Redington’s slight penchant toward portamento , not really objectionable but needing a bit more restraint. All first repeats are observed. Second repeats are not observed in op. 50/2 (first and fourth movements), but the second repeat is observed in op. 76/1 (first movement).

This is a good disc to have for excellent Haydn quartet playing with the added advantage of the spontaneity of a live performance at London’s famed Wigmore Hall. If these artists ever choose to studio-record other, or all, Haydn string quartets, I hope they choose to observe all first and second repeats. Such an addition to the literature would be welcome.

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings in D minor, Op. 9 no 4/H 3 no 22 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Doric String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1771; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Length: 19 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings in C major, Op. 50 no 2/H 3 no 45 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Doric String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Length: 21 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings in G major, Op. 76 no 1/H 3 no 75 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Doric String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 24 Minutes 24 Secs. 
String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 50 No. 1: Finale: Vivace by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Doric String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 

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