Bennewitz Quartet

Haydn: String Quartets Op. 17/5, 33/2, 54/2

Catalogue Number: SU 4326-2
Published: 26th May 2023
Genre: Chamber Music
Format: 1 CD
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) – String Quartets: in C major, Op. 54/2 (Hob. III:57); in G major, Op. 17/5 (Hob. III:29); and in E flat major, Op. 33/2 (Hob. III:38)

Bennewitz Quartet: Jakub Fišer – first violin, Štěpán Ježek – second violin, Jiří Pinkas – viola, Štěpán Doležal – cello

During the 18th century, the string quartet gained the position of the most valued and most challenging chamber music genre, and gradually became a vehicle for conveying the composer’s personal feelings. Joseph Haydn played a key role in forging the quartet’s classical form. He created almost 70 string quartets, which, along with the symphonies, constitute the largest, as well as the most significant, part of his oeuvre. Haydn accorded them the form that would serve as the model for Mozart, Beethoven and later composers. Just as fascinating as the quantity is his quartets’ sheer diversity, with each of them being singular, featuring novel (often humorous) ideas, experiments, as well as constant seeking of new possibilities of expression. The three quartets included on the present album chart the development of Haydn’s musical idiom, from Op. 17 (1771), which he wrote at the age of 40, through Op. 33, dubbed “Gli Scherzi” (1781, dedicated to the Grand Duke of Russia Pavel Petrovich, the future Tsar Paul I), to the formally experimental pieces making up Op. 54 (1788). The Bennewitz Quartet have given numerous concerts worldwide, including at the most prestigious venues (Wigmore Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, concert halls in New York, Seoul, etc.) and such renowned festivals as the Salzburger Festspiele, Lucerne Festival and Rheingau Musik Festival. At many of them, they have performed quartets by Haydn, one of their favourite composers, whose music they endow with a transparent sound, revealing their levity and sense for detail.

The Bennewitz Quartet – at home with Haydn


“The legacy of the Czech quartet tradition would appear to be safe in the hands of the Bennewitz, which eschews fashionable extremes of timbre and gesture without neglecting this music’s contrasts of town and country, court and tavern, and its capacity to surprise… All three are eminently repeatable accounts, but I have returned more than once to op.54 no.2 for a rare sense of a studio performance living in the moment of its creation.”
The Strad, August 2023

“…la sonorité ronde, sensuelle et soyeuse des Bennewitz rappelle la grande tradition des ensembles tchèques du XXe siècle. Une parfait maîtrise stylistique et une réelle experience de ce répertoire singularisent leurs interprétations.”
Diapason, September 2023

“Die Herren Jakub Fišer, Štěpán Ježek, Jiři Pinkas und Štěpán Doležal – gepriesen sei die „Zeichentabelle“ – bieten einen wachen, ungemein detailreichen, klangschönen, in den Stimmen wohl ausbalancierten Haydn. Tonlich schlank, mit kleinem, feinem Vibrato – für mich hätten es durchaus ein paar Lagenwechsel-Portamenti mehr sein können – und viel musikantischem Spielwitz, erfreut ein Musizieren, das zum Zuhören zwingt und bei dem man enttäuscht ist, dass nach gut 50 Minuten nicht noch ein weiteres „Leckerli“ folgt… Ein echter Stimmungsaufheller, dem man aufmerksam lauschen sollte. Definitiv empfohlen!”
Klassik Heute, September 2023

“Les premières mesures du Quatuor à cordes op. 17 n°5 donnent le ton, avec un son transparent sans être rachitique, une articulation soignée à l’écart de toute rhétorique sentencieuse, et surtout un sens réjouissant des couleurs et des éclairages : le Quatuor Bennewitz, qui appartient à la crème des quatuors tchèques, n’entend pas se laisser dicter son esthétique par les modes.”
Classica, November 2023

“This is a string quartet new to me, and a fine one… No. 5 is notable for a slow movement full of recitative and for a finale unusually rich in hijinks. This is a deft and brilliant performance.”
American Record Guide, October 2023

Joseph Haydn
String Quartet in G major, Op. 17 No. 5, Hob. III:29
1. Moderato 06:25
2. Menuetto – Trio 02:32
3. Adagio 04:43
4. Presto 02:37
Joseph Haydn
String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 33 No. 2, Hob. III:38
5. Allegro moderato 05:07
6. Scherzando – Trio 03:35
7. Largo sostenuto 04:20
8. Finale. Presto 03:29
Joseph Haydn
String Quartet in C major, Op. 54 No. 2, Hob. III:57
9. Vivace 05:55
10. Adagio (attacca) 02:53
11. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio 03:30
12. Finale. Adagio - Presto - Adagio 06:06

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