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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1815)
Cassation in E flat major arranged for String Quartet as Op.2 No.3
Cassation in D major arranged for String Quartet as Op.2 No.5
String Quartet in E major, Op.3 No.1 (attributed to Hoffstetter)
String Quartet in C major, Op.3 No.2 (attributed to Hoffstetter)
Kodaly Quartet
Recorded Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary, June 2000
NAXOS 8.555703 [71:47)


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On the march toward completing their traversal of Haydnís String Quartets, the members of the Kodaly Quartet are now delving into works of questionable authorship. The groupís previous disc contains the last four quartets of Opus 3, which have been attributed to Pater Romanus Hoffstetter (1742-1815). This new disc has the first two quartets of Opus 3 along with string quartet arrangements of two Haydn Cassations.

Although he probably did not make the arrangements of the two Cassations, the two works on the disc display the typical signs of a Haydn composition: invigorating and exciting outer movements, a fine division of legato and sharply etched phrasing, rhythmically active and gritty minuets, lovely and calming slow movements, ample variety of architecture, and sparkling atmosphere. I can assure readers that the arrangements are fully idiomatic of Haydnís soundworld and early chamber works.

The two String Quartets are fine works, but they are not as inspired or structurally inventive as the Cassations. The phrasing in the string quartets displays greater legato and rounded contours with a sugary effect not common in Haydnís music. The repetition is more extensive and less varied as well. I donít consider the two works to be by Haydn, but equally there is no authoritative evidence to indicate that Hoffstetter is the actual composer. Regardless of authorship, the music is rewarding and in keeping with the generally cheery mood of the Cassations.

The performances by the Kodaly Quartet are splendid. They capture all of Haydnís most endearing musical traits and with perfect form as well. The group fares better in these earlier Haydn works than those from his full maturity. The present disc finds the ensemble at its best, and I doubt that the music could be played any better. The recorded sound is exceptional for its crispness and detail, and the low level of richness befits the programmed works.

Early Haydn music is superior to the mature works of all other Classical period composers with the exception of Mozart. The arrangements of the Cassations are definitely as fine as any other works from Haydnís young adulthood. The works attributed to Hoffstetter arenít quite as rewarding, but even they are many steps ahead of the typical fare of the period. Those who have been collecting the Kodaly series will certainly want to add this latest installment to their record library. For all others, just consider the disc a delightful and invigorating diversion from the rigors of life.

Don Satz



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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