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Mozarteum Quartet (Markus Tomasi, violin; Géza Rhomberg, violin; Milan Radic, viola and Marcus Pouget, cello)

The Struggle for Applause. Half a Century of Musical Duels. (II) Haydn versus Pleyel, London 1792

String Quartet in C Major Op. 34 no. 1 (B 353), by Pleyel

2/8/2012

This concert recreated the musical rivalry between Haydn and Pleyel provoked by the London press in 1792. By then, Haydn was the most acclaimed composer of instrumental music in Europe, while Pleyel enjoyed growing prestige. The version of Pleyel’s String Quartet in C Major Op. 34 no. 1 presented in this video is perhaps the first modern-day performance of this work, as it never seems to have been published or recorded. The enormous influence of Haydn is clear in this work. The dialogue between the first violin and the cello in the opening “Allegro” reflects Pleyel’s mastery of string quartet texture, while the “Adagio”, with an angular melody in tutti using dotted rhythms, clearly and directly evokes Haydn’s “Capriccio. Adagio” from his String Quartet in C Major Op. 20 no. 2, as any attentive listener will detect. The “Rondo. Allegro” exudes the light and popular air typical of this genre, which was so popular during this period.

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