Australian Haydn Ensemble

Monday, 14 March 2022 at 8pm

Skye McIntosh (violin), Matthew Greco (violin), Karina Schmitz (viola), Daniel Yeadon (cello) Photo credits: Oliver Miller

 “ A jewel in the national period instrument crown “ Limelight.


HAYDN            String quartet in G major, Op.33 no 5, How do you do

BOCCHERINI    String quartet in G minor, Op.32 no 5

MOZART          String quartet no 19 in C major, K465, Dissonance

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 highly regarded annual concert season; it tours nationally and has appeared at overseas venues and festivals. Its busy schedule includes recording, regional performances and educational projects.

The ensemble’s concert for Sydney Mozart Society showcases four of its exceptional musicians: Skye McIntosh (violin), Matthew Greco (violin), Karina Schmitz (viola) and Daniel Yeadon (cello).

Read more about the artists.

Programme Notes

A program of sparkling chamber works from the years of Mozart’s rise to stardom in 1780s Vienna

In 1782, at age 25, Mozart decided it was time for his star to shine.  Shrugging off his stultifying patron and the boring city of his father, he had set himself up in the music capital of the world, won ‘Viennese Idol’ as keyboard virtuoso, fallen in love, written a risqué smash hit opera set in a harem, and was filling his set-lists with new piano concerti for himself to play to adoring fans. Somehow, he found time to lend his viola talents to an eminent but amateur string quartet with a certain Joseph Haydn on first.

This proved to be more than the start of a beautiful friendship. Reading through Haydn’s newly composed set of six Opus 33 quartets left a deep impression on the younger composer and over the next three years he resolved to dedicate a set of his own to his mentor.  The six ‘Haydn Quartets’ were all of great personal significance to Mozart.  In the dedication page, he calls them his children and modestly entrusts them, with all their “faults”, to Joseph’s benign paternal care. It goes without saying that Haydn found nothing to correct in this sublime tribute.

The last of them, the famous Dissonance quartet, with its startlingly original opening, is the centrepiece of this concert. The first half lets you ‘eavesdrop’ on a string quartet featuring Haydn on violin and a young Mozart on viola as we perform the repertoire they sightread in 1782.      AHE

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809). String Quartet in G major, Op.33 no 5 

Vivace assai / Largo e cantabile / Scherzo: Allegro / Finale: Allegretto

Haydn’s first 40 string quartets were conventional but the innovations in his six Sun Quartets (1772) set the stage for all those to come with all four instruments given freedom to express emotion and a distinct character. Nine years later, Haydn completed his Opus 33. He said that these were “written in an entirely new manner” after he had become acquainted with those of Mozart. Known as the Russian Quartets, they were dedicated to Grand Duke Paul of Russia.

The qualities most often associated with Haydn’s string quartets - sunny humour, mischief, gaiety, kindliness, laughter – are encapsulated in this one.

The first theme of the opening movement begins and ends with a rising four note cadenza, from which the nickname is drawn.

Three of the movements are in a lively upbeat mood while the second movement is dark and melancholy. This second movement, in G minor, is an aria for the first violin accompanied by the other three instruments.

The third movement, a Scherzo, returns to G major.

The final movement presents a series of variations on the principal theme, the last variation changing from Allegretto to Presto to conclude the quartet.                                         HM


Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) String Quartet in G minor, Op.32 no 5

 Allegro comodo / Andantino / Minuetto con moto / Allegro giusto - capriccio ad libitum

Ridolfo Luigi Boccherini, a younger contemporary of Haydn, was admired throughout Europe as a gifted cellist and a profound composer.

Boccherini was born into a musical family in Lucca, Italy and received his first music lessons at age five from his father. In 1761 he moved to Madrid and later to a little town in the Gredos Mountains in Ávila, where he thrived under the patronage of the younger brother of the Spanish King and wrote many of his most famous works.

Dating from his time in Spain, this quartet displays all the vibrant colours we associate with Boccherini’s best. His compositions have a courtly and galante style.

The agreeable first movement is in sonata form. The sparkling fourth movement features energetic passages alternating with brief quieter sections and ends with a spectacularly virtuosic violin capriccio.                                                                       TR

Wolfgang MOZART (1765-1791)  String Quartet no 19 in C major, K465 

Adagio–Allegro / Andante cantabile / Menuetto: Allegretto /Allegro molto

The K465 quartet has a slow tense discordant opening, which has led to it being known as the Dissonance quartet. So perplexed by the opening were Mozart’s publishers and musicians, they felt sure he had made a mistake in the manuscript. Haydn, who well understood the power of musical surprises and contrasts, advised: “If Mozart wrote it, it must be so.”

After the unsettled opening, a bright theme emerges to banish tension from the first movement and create a world of sunshine and cloudless skies; a world that seems all the more radiant because of the contrasting discord left behind. Mozart’s use of the cello in this movement is particularly masterful; in the opening bars it throbs ominously, then as the mood changes it adds richness and depth to the engaging melodies of the violins and viola.

A mood of tender intimacy is established in the second movement. The delicate singing voice of the violin responds to the cello, evoking a quiet inner world of grace and contemplation. The third movement opens with a light and elegant minuet followed by a more sedate contrasting trio. The final movement is filled with energy as furious counterpoint and insistent rhythms bring the work to a joyous end.                        CB