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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812)
String Quartet in F major, Op. 14 No.1
String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 14 No.2
String Quartet in D minor, Op. 14 No.3
Aviv Quartet: Sergey Ostrovsky (first violin); Evgenia Epshtein (second violin); Shuli Waterman (viola); Iris Jortner (cello)
Rec. Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary from 11-24 November, 2001 DDD
NAXOS 8.555952 [59:23]


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The young Israel-based Aviv Quartet have been the recipients of several prestigious awards and present for their Naxos recording debut three of Franz Anton Hoffmeister’s string quartets.

Initially qualifying as a lawyer, Hoffmeister co-founded a renowned publishing house and is better remembered in the music world as a music publisher than a composer. His impressive list of famous clients included Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Pleyel, Vanhal, Clementi et al.

Hoffmeister was a most prolific composer and according to my version of ‘Grove’ wrote over 350 works that featured the flute as a solo instrument, 120 works for strings, 50 plus symphonies and nocturnes for orchestra, eight operas and many other works. I understand that Hoffmeister wrote twenty three string quartets in total and this disc features the three Opus 14 quartets that he published in 1791.

As a premier music publisher and friend of many famous composers few others would have had the access to as much music as Hoffmeister. In view of this it is not surprising that Hoffmeister’s music was widely influenced by others. For those who have not come across Hoffmeister’s string quartets, as a general guide I would describe them as being finely worked with an abundance of character and stylistic similarities to those of both early Haydn and Mozart without reaching the intensity of feeling and achieving the creative vitality of those great masters. What immediately strikes me about these convincing and appealing quartets is how they brim over with attractive melodies and consistently maintain a mood of unbridled joy.

The performers play with a real youthful enthusiasm of vim and vigour that always feels secure and technically accomplished. The Aviv quartet led by Sergey Ostrovsky is the most exciting ensemble that I have heard for some time and they are I feel destined for an esteemed career.

Fascinating and adept string quartets from an almost forgotten composer and another sure-fire winner from the champion Naxos stable.

Michael Cookson

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