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Hanson takes on Haydn

Qobuzissime for the spectacular first album by the Quatuor Hanson, an inspired tribute to Joseph Haydn.

By François Hudry | Video of the Day | October 14, 2019

Six quartets that are key to understanding what Joseph Haydn brought to the history of western music. This effort by the Quatuor Hanson is particularly successful because they know how to construct and express the quintessence of this subtle art. And what's more, they bring it off with a fascinating level of instrumental skill.

Listening to this impressive Qobuzissime first album, released on Aparté, we have to bow down once again before the genius of a composer who, along with Boccherini, invented a new genre and immediately studded it with masterpieces of staggering quality. Its title, All Shall Not Die, is the international translation of the Latin epigraph engraved onto Haydn’s tombstone (non omnis moriar). The choice of this phrase indicates the permanence and universality of Haydn's body of work. It is also certainly a testament to the quartet’s lively admiration towards "Papa" Haydn.

Judiciously picked out from among Haydn's vast corpus, these six quartets are touching both in their expressiveness and in the perfection of their writing. Not a single note out of place, a perfect balance of four voices and an inspiration at every moment. The closing Opus 77, left unfinished, was a contemporary of Beethoven's first Quartets, Opus 18 – works that do not betray the lessons their writer learned from his master.

More than two hundred years after his death, Haydn has only just found recognition as one of the greats, a status denied him in life. More than a forerunner, Haydn is a founder, a genius whose influence was felt by those who came after him, foremost amongst whom Beethoven and Schubert. This splendid album All Shall Not Die puts him (back) in his rightful place, as well as confirming Hanson’s place as serious contenders on the chamber music scene.


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