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The Consort

David J Golby

Volume 66, Summer 2010

Joseph Haydn Divertimento III,
from String Quartet op.71 no.3,
for flute, oboe, 2 horns,
2 violins, viola, cello and double bass
Edition HH, HH191.FSP, Bicester 2009
(pbk, score & parts £30)
ISMN 979 0 708059 68 4

This is the third of Wranitzky's arrangements of Haydn's string quartets, for the same forces, published by Edition HH as part of their expanding @HAYDN series. The publisher André issued six (two sets of three) of these Divertissemens in 1800, based on Haydn's op.71 and 74 respectively. The Moravian, Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808), responsible for all six, was a very prominent musician in Vienna around the turn of the 19th century, and a close acquaintance of and collaborator with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. To an even greater extent than Pleyel, Wranitzky is a figure of great historical significance whose name is far more obscure than it deserves to be.

Naturally, the success of this type of arrangement rests largely on the competence and flair of the arranger, when redistributing the original material among expanded forces. Here, a fair amount of the original quartet music is retained, with the most pragmatic option having been taken in retaining much of Haydn's passagework for first violin in the corresponding part. However, the wind and double bass parts are added most judiciously for support and octave doubling in some fuller sections, and the flute and oboe frequently receive original violin lines as solos, and are also used to give prominence to antiphonal exchanges across the ensemble. The arrangement has perhaps the least to offer in the Andante con moto, with the original quartet version holding sway for much of the time, but the Vivace finale is a different matter, with the two horns used to full effect.

In his Introduction (complete with a German translation), Hogwood offers fascinating insights into Wranitzky's approach to this core repertoire, particularly with respect to the 'possibly more public' (p.v) style of articulation he can be seen to have adopted. The editorial approach is characteristically vigorous and performance-led. Clear inconsistencies have been resolved, but always with unambiguous indication of where intervention has occurred in the score and parts, complemented by comprehensive listings and cross-referencing between the sources in the detailed commentary. Other performance-related issues, such as the presence of repeats in the da capo of a minuet of this period, are also clarified by the editor.

Although it could be argued that there is less need and use for this particular type of arrangement than could be said of Schwencke's re-working of Mozart's Serenade, for example (which deserves to find its place on any concert platform), Wranitzky's contribution here and elsewhere should not be overlooked, and ensembles could certainly enhance their programmes with his 'amplifications' (p.v). These offer some of Haydn's quartets in a more symphonic guise: a refreshing recasting of timeless masterpieces. There has been a resurgence of interest in Wranitzky, in association with the bicentenary of his death in September 2008. The Edition HH website contains a link to The Wranitzky Project site (http://wranitzky.com), which is home to an abundance of fascinating information, including details of performances and recordings of his music, and free downloads of some scores and parts.

We are grateful to theThe Consort for permission to reproduce this review.

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