Eighth and Final Volume of The Haydn Quartet Society
The Pro Arte Quartet, remastered for finest sound quality
To state that Haydn,
more than perhaps any other composer, is responsible for the String
Quartet as we know it - and from there the many other instrumental
variations of chamber music of the Classical, Romantic and Modern
periods - seems a very bold and sweeping comment. And yet it was Haydn
who freed his quartets from the tyranny of the continuo and
allowed his parts to move freely, without relying on the 'gravity' of a
bass. It was Haydn who more or less invented Sonata form, and who
developed the beautiful part-writing, following on from his own studies
into earlier vocal polyphony, which is the essence of the string quartet
Of his many quartets - one website lists 78 works for String Quartet by or attributed to Haydn - the Pro Arte Quartet chose 29 works to record in their ground-breaking 8-volume Haydn Quartet Society series, made for HMV between 1931 and 1938. These cover the full range of his output, from Op. 1 No. 1 (1762) to the two Opus 77 quartets of 1799 (the final Op. 103 remained unfinished).
HAYDN String Quartet in B flat major, Op.1 No.1, Hob.III:1 "La Chasse"
HAYDN String Quartet in E flat major, Op.20 No.1, Hob.III:31 "Sun"
HAYDN String Quartet in B flat major, Op.55 No.3, Hob.III:62 “Tost I”
HAYDN String Quartet in B flat major, Op.76 No.4, Hob.III:78 "Sunrise"
Recorded Abbey Road Studio 3, London
Recorded in 1938, released as HMV 78s, D.B.3768-3774
Matrix numbers: 2EA: 7213-7222, 7246-7249
Takes: All first takes except DB3769 side 1: take 2
Download ID: 184067, 388862
The Pro Arte Quartet:
Alphonse Onnou, violin
Laurent Halleux, violin
Germain Prevost, viola
Robert Maas, cello
Bill Rosen's Review
Like the Schnabel Beethoven Sonatas, it is possible to say that the Pro Arte Haydn quartet performances may have since been equalled, but never bettered
With this final volume, one of the great between-the-wars classical recording accomplishments is complete, available in sound, the clarity of which the original 1938 purchasers could have no conception. This recording of 29 Haydn quartets is equal in artistry to the "potted" Wagner Ring of Walter/Blech/Heger/Collingwood, the Schnabel Beethoven Sonatas and the Hugo Wolf Society, the other great recorded monuments of the pre-World War II years. Like the Schnabel Beethoven Sonatas, it is possible to say that the Pro Arte Haydn quartet performances may have since been equalled, but never bettered.
Op. 1 #1
Haydn's first numbered quartet begins with a joyous allegro which leads to an equally joyful minuet. A first violin driven serious serenade gives way to a minuet and a very short presto with stretti.
Op. 20 #1
This wonderful opening quartet to Haydn's "Sun" series begins with a genial, contrapuntal first movement and is followed by a very forthright minuet. A luminous slow movement, one of Haydn's greatest, is followed by a mellow finale with a strong development section.
Op. 55 #3
A very searching opening theme is subjected to a rigorous development and a varied recapitulation. A rather conventional andante is followed by a rapid yet pensive minuet. The finale is rapid with high violin trills accompanying thematic development in the lower instruments.
Op. 76 #4 "Sunrise"
A slowly rising opening theme in the first movement gives the quartet its nickname. The theme is treated to superb modulations in the development. A deeply beautiful slow movement continues with constantly changing textures. A rustic and powerful minuet leads to a monothematic finale ending in a brilliant fugue. One of Haydn's greatest quartets.