String Quartet in B-flat Op.76/4 “Sunrise”

Composer: Joseph Haydn (b. 1732 - d. 1809)
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Composer: Joseph Haydn (b. 1732 - d. 1809)

Performance date: 28/06/2014

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1796-7

Duration: 00:23:30

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTE

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Danish Quartet (Frederik Øland, Rune Sorensen [violins], Asbjørn Nørgaard [viola], Fredrik Sjölin [cello]) - [quartet]

two trips to England
in 1791 and 1794 gave the composer a new lease of life after his long years at
the beck and call of the Esterhazy family. The sudden freedom, the stimulation
of music-loving audiences and access to superb musicians had a galvanising
effect on the ageing composer, who produced a dozen quartets, four keyboard
sonatas, four Masses, ten symphonies and the oratorio,The Creation, in less
than 10 years. It has been argued that Haydn
was the only composing genius for whom the broad simplifying wisdom of old age
presided over both the rebellious impetuosity of youth as well as the complex
inventions of middle age all at the same time
. We should perhaps note that
this is the last completed set of quartets that Haydn wrote.

nickname is self-explanatory as soon as you hear the magical introduction,
music of sustained and glowing beauty that enters from nowhere and leads
without a pause into the driving Allegro first subject. When the music
modulates for the second subject, we are suddenly returned to the world of the
opening sunrise. The introduction itself reappears so frequently throughout the
movement beginning the exposition repeat, the development, the recapitulation
and the coda, that we belatedly realise that the movement’s structure indeed
consists of this contrast between the magic of the dawn and the brightness of

miraculous movement is followed by one of Haydn’s celebrated Adagios, where all
the sadness of life is compressed into a long, gentle meditation of quiet,
unostentatious beauty. The Minuet provides an immediate and lively contrast
with its insistent opening figure showing Haydn’s skill at building a whole
movement from the slenderest of material. The Trio springs out on us out of the
blue without a change of key plunging us into a folk dance complete with
bagpipe drone. The Finale is an exciting process of inevitable but dramatic
acceleration, which makes it important that the original tempo is not set too
fast otherwise the players end up in orbit.