Gyrowetz: String Quartet in G, Op. 44/1; String Quartet in B flat, Op. 44/2; String Quartet in A flat, Op. 44/3

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COMPOSERS: Gyrowetz
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: String Quartet in G, Op. 44/1; String Quartet in B flat, Op. 44/2; String Quartet in A flat, Op. 44/3
PERFORMER: Salomon String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67109
The Bohemian Adalbert Gyrowetz (1763-1850) found fame both in London, where he befriended Haydn, and later in Vienna, as composer and conductor of the Court Theatre. From the outset he diligently modelled his style on that of Haydn, and he never seems to have developed significantly – indeed, by his own admission he had become a living anachronism in the Vienna of the 1830s and 1840s. The three quartets here, dating from 1804, can superficially recall late Haydn, especially in their fondness for colourful shifts to keys a third apart. Gyrowetz, though, has little of Haydn’s questing, argumentative rigour or sense of drama. His pleasant ideas tend to follow each other inconsequentially, with minimal concern for large-scale rhythmic or tonal integration. He will go off at a tangent at the slightest provocation, and, with counterpoint at a premium, his developments meander amiably rather than build inexorably. Still, if comparisons do Gyrowetz no favours, the Allegros have a distinctive, faintly quirky charm, while the slow movements are notable for their eloquent conversational textures – a real feeling for the quartet medium here. The Adagio of No. 3 is specially touching in its grave lyricism. Though its tone quality can be a touch abrasive, the Salomon gives sympathetic performances of this agreeably discursive music, allowing it plenty of space and never seeking to imbue it with a dynamism alien to Gyrowetz’s musical personality. Richard Wigmore

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