Good morning. Did you sleep well? Here’s is some very gentle music to bring you from darkness to light, a slow musical wake-up, a friend touching your shoulder and whispering: “It’s time.” Time to enjoy a little masterwork. Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in F Op. 2 No. 4 (Hob III:10). A piece that testifies that the young composer had come to maturity and that he had an excellent sense for what his audience was looking for: spirited, light and entertaining music, innovative in its expressivity, traditional in its form.
The quartet came into existence between 1757 and 1762; no manuscripts have survived the passing of time. It is one out of ten that are known under the name of “Fürnberg Quartets”, op 1. and op. 2, that Haydn composed for the private chamber concerts of Karl Joseph Edler von Fürnberg. They took place in his residence in Weinzierl, not far the Melk Abbey. Haydn played the viol in Fürnberg’s private quartet. “These first quartets show, in all their simplicity, the self-confidence of a composer who has undertaken countless exercises”, writes the 19th-century Haydn biographer Carl Ferdinand Pohl.
The quartet in F has five movements: Presto (F major), Minuet (F major) – Trio (B♭major), Adagio non troppo (F minor), Minuet (F major) – Trio (B♭ major) and Allegro (F major). It is perfect to start a day. Fast-fast-slow-fast-fast-slow… take it easy, but don’t fall asleep again. Have a look outside! Is the sun shining? Yes? Enjoy it, then. No? Stick to Haydn’s quartets and you will not miss the sun. It will warm your heart and comfort your soul.
Haydn’s String Quartets have been recorded by the tremendous Angeles String Quartet. For five years the hitherto unknown ensemble has been busy recording all of the composer’s quartets and released the set in 2000. Here’s what the reviewer of the magazine “Gramophone” wrote: “The original team consisted of Kathleen Lenski, Steven Miller, Brian Dembow and Stephen Erdody, with Sara Parkins replacing Miller in 1998. Seventeen of the 67 quartets feature the revised line-up but, to be quite honest, the blend, balance and distinctive aural profile that was already in place by the early 90s was scarcely altered with that one personnel change. I admire the svelte texture of the Angeles’ pooled sound, their consistent evenness in full chords and the musical like-mindedness of individual players […]”. To sum it up: A fantastic achievement and a lot of excellent music.
© Charles Thibo