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The Haydn Project
Emerson String Quartet
The Haydn Project
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #2

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Emerson Quartet has made its first all-Haydn recording, featuring seven of his most famous quartets on two CDs. Presented chronologically, the program is arranged for utmost contrast ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Emerson String Quartet
Title: The Haydn Project
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Original Release Date: 1/1/2001
Re-Release Date: 9/18/2001
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 028947132721

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Emerson Quartet has made its first all-Haydn recording, featuring seven of his most famous quartets on two CDs. Presented chronologically, the program is arranged for utmost contrast of tonality, atmosphere, and character. The prevailing mood is joyous, as befits the occasion, though three quartets are in minor keys. The opening work, Op. 20, No. 5, is dark, brooding, and achingly beautiful. Its inner tension is released in passionate climaxes, its slow movement is serenely pastoral, its finale a double fugue. This is followed by Op. 33, No. 2, nicknamed "The Joke" for its finale, whose coda is punctuated by several "fake" endings: general pauses of increasing length designed to tempt the audience into premature applause. To make its full effect, this "joke" depends on watching the players sit in frozen silence. Also in minor are the dramatic Op. 76, No. 2, nicknamed "Fifths" for its opening theme, which contains the famous "Witches' Minuet," a fierce two-part canon between the upper and lower instruments, and Op. 74, No. 3, nicknamed "The Rider" for its galloping finale. Op. 64, No. 5, is called "The Lark" for its soaring beginning; the finale is a brilliant perpetual motion marathon. Op. 54, No. 1, and Op. 77, No. 1, radiate good cheer and sunshine. The Emerson, whose violinists alternate, plays all this with its customary meticulousness, polish, and ease. Some of the fast movements are surprisingly leisurely, and at times one could wish for more inwardness or abandon. A third, bonus disc taken from earlier Emerson recordings contains movements of eight quartets, from Mozart to Ives. --Edith Eisler

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CD Reviews

Simply marvelous....
Jane Fowler WYMAN | Menlo Park, CA USA | 10/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have grown old with the Emerson; they recently celebrated their twenty-fifth season with the Stanford University Lively Arts, and I have not missed one of those performances. This year they played four of the quartets from their Haydn Project. The audience was as thrilled as any listener of these CDs will be.In addition to their extraordinary performance, the Emerson have chosen seven of Haydn's most delightful quartets, bound to rekindle the excitement of knowledgeable music lovers and to entice new listeners. The liner notes provide an introduction not only to Haydn but also to the string quartet as a form. I cannot think of a better introduction: for one who wants to learn but is timid, here is where to begin.The bonus CD offers movements from other quartets that the Emerson often play as encores. What a joy!"
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 11/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The third is a set of individual movements by Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Bartok, Ives, Shostakovich, Webern and finally a sizzling performance of the fugue from Beethoven's third Rasumovsky. It's brilliant, so I don't know why they are being so coy about it.

The first thing that I commend strongly about this set of 7 Haydn quartets is the actual selection. They range in order of composition from one of the op 20's to the great op77 #1, and 3 of the 7 are in minor keys. I get a definitely serious feel to the Emersons' approach to all 7. Op 33 #2 'The Joke' is included, and for once the jokiness at the end is downplayed, to my great relief. Another aspect that interested me was the fairly moderate speeds they take in the finales to the first 4 numbers, getting distinctly livelier in the last 3. I find this extremely convincing -- the music in the earlier finales is slighter than in the later ones and to my ears it benefits from not being rushed. What I would have liked to find out from the liner notes is whether that, or something else entirely, was the Emersons' thinking, but the remarks are to a familiar pattern -- useful and informative background information, very little about the performances, and rather gushy 'chatty-learned' stuff on the music.

I would describe this as a really distinguished set. It ought to suit experienced listeners in search of new insights, and for new(er)comers the format has been quite brilliantly devised as an introduction to the string quartet repertory presenting the father of the genre in depth followed by glimpses of what his successors did with the heritage he left them. Recorded quality also excellent."
String Quartet Delight
rodboomboom | Dearborn, Michigan United States | 01/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This tribute to Haydn is spectacular. Their playing is impeccable, with fine definition and movement. I especially enjoy their offering of Opus 33, The Joke. It is light and playful and bounces with liltiness. This is truly refreshing music to listen to. The bonus CD of works by Mozart, Shostakovich, Dvorak, et al is wonderful as well. This finales in Beethoven's op. 59 for String Quartet.
Magnificent!Thanks Emerson for 25, may 25 more be yours and your fans!"