Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Aeolian String Quartet Plays Haydn (Part 2)

This is a past Tuesday Blog from Dec-09-2014 . 

Vinyl’s Revenge returns for the second of a two-part series on the String Quartets of Joseph Haydn -last month's considered his six quartets of the opus 20.

Composed in 1790, the string quartets of Opus 64 constitute a second set of six quartets for violinist Johann Tost (the first set of six are the opp. 54 and 55), who had led the second violins of Haydn's orchestra at Esterháza from 1783 until his departure for Paris in 1788. In Paris Tost sold some of Haydn’s compositions, and Haydn actually dedicated the Op. 64 set to Tost in gratitude for his efforts. 

Later in life, Tost became a cloth-merchant and dabbled in music promotion - Mozart also apparently provided Tost with chamber music, namely his last two string quintets.

The best known quartet from this set is the fifth, known as The Lark from the initial entry of the first violin in the eighth bar in the high register used from time to time in these quartets. 

Heard in our two posts and YouTube selections, the Aeolian Quartet was a highly reputed string quartet based in London (UK), with a long international touring history and presence, an important recording and broadcasting profile. It was the successor of the pre-War Stratton Quartet, adopting its new name in the late 1940s and disbanding in 1981.

The Quartet made many recordings, but is especially noted for this complete Haydn cycle, which included the dubious op 3 series, and an account of the Seven Last Words From The Cross with poetic readings by Peter Pears. (
Of course, the times have changed since these were captured on vinyl (mid-1970’s), and there are excellent versions of these quartets available with both modern and period ensembles. However, the enduring quality of these performances is undeniable: everything seems perfect and royally balanced, ahead of the approach embraced by period groups. This is distinguished classicism, uncompromising but still colorful, cheerful and often, when necessary, infinitely deep.

Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809)
String Quartets, Op. 64

No. 1 - Quartet in C major, Hob.III:65 
No. 2 - Quartet in B minor, Hob.III:68 
No. 3 - Quartet in B♭ major, Hob.III:67 
No. 4 - Quartet in G major, Hob.III:66 
No. 5 - Quartet in D major ("The Lark"), , Hob.III:63 
No. 6 - Quartet in E♭ major, Hob.III:64

The Aeolian String Quartet:

Emanuel Hurwitz & Raymond Keenlyside - Violins
Margaret Major - Viola
Derek Simpson - Cello

Tracks from Disks 4-6 of "Joseph Haydn, Aeolian String Quartet ‎– Haydn String Quartets Volume 6 [Op.20 & Op.64]"
London Records ‎– STS15447-52-6



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