Australian Haydn Ensemble

Friday, 31 August 2018 at 8pm

Skye McIntosh (violin), Matthew Greco (violin), James Eccles (viola), James Bush (‘cello), Melissa Farrow (flute)

Photos of James and Melissa credit: Helen White

Programme

Boccherini                Flute quintet no 8 in G minor, op 19 no 2

Mozart                     String quartet no 14 in G major, K 387, Spring

Haydn                      String quartet no 35 in D minor, op 42, Hob III:43

Mozart                      Flute quartet no 1 in D major, K 285

About the Artists

Formed in 2011, the Australian Haydn Ensemble is now regarded as one of Australia’s finest orchestras and chamber music groups. The ensemble specialises in music of the Classical era performed on historical instruments under the leadership of Artistic Director, Skye McIntosh. The ensemble has its own vibrant annual concert season; it tours nationally and has appeared at overseas venues and festivals. It’s busy schedule includes recording, regional performances and educational projects.

The ensemble’s concert for Sydney Mozart Society showcases five of its exceptional musicians: Skye McIntosh (violin), Matthew Greco (violin), James Eccles (viola), James Bush (‘cello) and Melissa Farrow (flute). 

Programme Notes

With their historical instruments and consummate musicianship, these performers evoke the elegance and radiant character of classical music. Their concert begins with Boccherini’s lushly vivid flute quintet. Two equally luminous string quartets from Mozart and Haydn follow. Mozart’s beautiful flute quartet concludes the concert.

 

MOZART        String quartet in G, K 387

Allegro vivace assai / Menuetto: allegretto / Andante cantabile / Molto allegro

Mozart's six so-called "Haydn" quartets, published in Vienna in 1785 as opus 10 and listed in Kochel's first catalogue as K 387, K 421, K 428, K 458 (Hunt), K 464 and K 465 (Dissonance), were written between 1783 and 1785.

Haydn had a great influence on Mozart's earlier musical development, as Mozart acknowledged by dedicating to Haydn a set of string quartets.  Einstein writes that the "impression made by the [opus 33] quartets of Haydn was one of the profoundest Mozart experienced in his artistic life. [. . .].  This time, he learned as a master from a master; he did not imitate; he yielded nothing of his own personality".  The musicologist, H C Robbins Landon, says that "on the whole, the six quartets dedicated to Haydn are even profounder and more accomplished masterpieces than the later three dedicated to the King of Prussia".  

Alan Kriegsman says that the "first quartet in the series [which we are to hear in this concert] is a boundlessly effusive creation that, for all its spill of emotion, is yet contained within absolutely ideal proportions. [. . .] The very first phrase is an octave-spanning upward spring, bold and memorable in outline".

The minuet, with its trio, are placed second in this work.   In this case, a contrast to the first movement's upsweep is provided by the gently falling phrases of the opening bars.   The slow movement, placed third, has four separate themes.

In the final movement, which opens with a four-note theme, the instruments imitate each other in close succession, but this is not a fugue even though one may be superficially suggested.   After a false ending consisting of loud chords, Mozart brings the work to a quiet close, still using the four-note theme that has pervaded the whole movement.

                                                                                                                            M. C.

HAYDN  String quartet in D minor, op 42, Hob III:43

Andante ed innocentemente / Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio / Adagio e cantabile / Finale. Presto

Haydn composed the String Quartet in D minor, op 42 in 1785. He was  53 years old and in the service of the Esterházy family, composing music for events at their vast estate. His fame as a composer was widespread in Europe and it is thought that he composed the quartet as part of a commission from a Spanish patron for several short quartets. The quartet was published by Antaria in 1786.

The work opens with a captivating melody, truly innocentemente. The apparent artlessness and simplicity of this melody is deceptive. Gradually, the music swells and builds in sonata form; the effect is one of uplifting and dignified solemnity. 

The second movement is in D major. It has a vibrant quality, full of joy and delight. 

The third movement has a stately nobility. It is based on a single melody, introduced by the violin. Haydn’s sustained development of the melody without significant variation or contrast creates an intense and gripping beauty.

The final movement has a fugue-like structure based on a short dramatic theme. The continual re-emergence of this theme and rich counterpoint develop a forceful momentum  before the work comes to a sudden and unexpectedly quiet close.

The quartet has a surface that is polished, beautiful and courtly. Beneath the surface, the musical technique is masterful. There is symmetrical precision in the timing, length and modulations of each movement. Variations in rhythm, melody and keys remain within a  relatively narrow range, creating effects of  perfect proportion and elegant restraint.

                                                                                                                            C. B.

Detailed programme notes for other works will be available closer to the concert date.

 

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                              Artistic Director Skye McIntosh