Genius and wit in the Age of Enlightenment
In 1782, at age 25, Mozart decided it was time for his star to shine. Shrugging off his stultifying patron and the boring city of his father, he had set himself up in the music capital of the world, won “Viennese Idol” as keyboard virtuoso, fallen in love, written a risqué smash hit opera set in a harem, and was filling his set-lists with brand new piano concerti for himself to play to adoring fans. Somehow, he found time to lend his viola talents to an eminent but amateur string quartet with a certain Joseph Haydn on first.
This proved to be more than the start of a beautiful friendship. Reading through Haydn’s newly composed set of six Op. 33 quartets left a deep impression on the younger composer and over the next three years he resolved to dedicate a set of his own to his mentor. The six ‘Haydn Quartets’ were all of great personal significance to Mozart. In the beautiful dedication page, he calls them his children and modestly entrusts them, with all their “faults”, to Joseph’s benign paternal care. It goes without saying that Haydn found nothing to correct in this sublime tribute.
The last of them, the famous Dissonance quartet, with its startlingly original adagio opening, is the gravitational centre of this concert, in which you’ll also hear the fifth of Haydn’s Op. 33 How do you do? and the contemporaneous fifth of Boccherini’s Op. 32 quartets. Dating from his time in Spain, the latter displays all the vibrant colours we have come to love in Boccherini, including a spectacularly virtuosic violin capriccio in the finale.
Haydn’s object lesson in the form he pioneered, encapsulates the clever, funny, and beautiful nature that so obviously won the heart of Vienna’s star ascendant.
Skye McIntosh, violin
Matthew Greco, violin
Karina Schmitz, viola
Daniel Yeadon, cello
Presented by Australian Haydn Ensemble