“This is music-making that reflects deeply human and attractive qualities … good humor, wit, and invention.” – Early Music America (on Haydn’s String Quartets, Op. 33)
CORO Connections presents a new recording by the acclaimed Eybler Quartet, featuring Beethoven’s first three works for string quartet, Op. 18, nos. 1-3. The Toronto-based ensemble was founded in 2004 to explore the works of the first century-and-a-half of the string quartet repertoire and plays on instruments appropriate to the period of the music it performs. The Eybler Quartet has been widely praised for their committed, lively, and energizing performances, and razor-sharp ensemble skills. Adding to their superb discography, which includes music by Mozart and Haydn as well as lesser-known composers like Vanhal and their namesake Joseph Leopold Eybler, the group’s new Beethoven album will be released on March 2.
Beethoven’s Opus 18 represents the composer’s supremely confident first step towards what would become his total mastery of the Classical String Quartet. As violist Patrick Jordan points out in his colourfully descriptive liner notes, much of the Eybler’s repertoire draws from the two or three generations of composers preceding Beethoven, which is unusual for a string quartet. The Eybler Quartet’s experience of approaching Beethoven’s Opus 18 as “new music” profoundly influenced their readings of the works. Working from two different editions of the score, the Quartet confronted contradictory information, and delved deeply into exhaustive critical notes on the works. “Regardless of the edition one uses,” comments Jordan, “Beethoven’s work immediately stands apart from that of those working around him: articulations and dynamics are more frequent, detailed, and specific, and we find more special instructions. Beethoven represents a sudden step up in complexity, rather than a smooth point along the curve.”
The Eybler Quartet have chosen to take Beethoven “at his word,” putting aside their received ideas and intuitions to “unlearn” the works and subsequently reconstruct them with Beethoven’s instructions front of mind. One dramatic change is the Eybler’s commitment to respect the tempi that Beethoven himself indicated, some much quicker than we’re accustomed to, some considerably slower. Says Jordan: “There would appear to be no end of debate on this fiery topic, and I am sure that whatever I have to offer will merely fan the flames rather than extinguish anything!”
The Eybler Quartet’s most recent album, featuring the string quartets of Czech composer and Mozart contemporary Johann Baptist Vanhal, was widely acclaimed, “The ensemble is in its element here,” said The San Francisco Chronicle, “ and gives the music the vividness and polish required.” Boston’s WCRB praised the quartet’s for its “intimacy perfectly balanced with an electrifying passion” in choosing it as CD of the Week, while Early Music America was charmed by the ensemble’s “infectious vivacity, dynamism, and edge.”
CORO Connections is an imprint of the award-winning CORO record label. All of the artists on CORO Connections have links to Harry Christophers, The Sixteen, or the Handel and Haydn Society. Eybler Quartet violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.
The Eybler Quartet brings a unique combination of talents and skills: years of collective experience as chamber musicians, technical prowess, years of experience in period instrument performance, and an unquenchable passion for the repertoire. Violinist Julia Wedman and violist Patrick G. Jordan are members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra; Julia and Aisslinn are also members of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. Cellist Margaret Gay is much in demand as both a modern and period instrument player.