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CD of the Week: The Eybler Quartet: Vanhal – Six Quartets, Op. 6

The Eybler Quartet: Johann Baptist Vanhal – Six Quartets, Op. 6
The Galler Players of Niagara
The Eybler Quartet: Johann Baptist Vanhal – Six Quartets, Op. 6";

In the late eighteenth century music scene in Vienna, names like Haydn and Mozart were as much household names as they are now. But there are also names among these Viennese composers that have unfairly fallen by the wayside. One such composer is the Czech-born Johann Baptist Vanhal.

Born in 1739 in Bohemia, he moved to Vienna as a music teacher and performer at the age of 21. Having already built strong relationships within the budding music publishing industry, Vanhal’s prolific compositional output and international performance tours quickly put him at the top of the list of Vienna’s most cherished composers. The Czech composer befriended the young Mozart through the city’s rich music culture, and it is this Viennese mastery that enchanted Mozart, who did, in fact, become the leading composer by the 1780s.

Among Vanhal’s vast repertoire is his set of six string quartets (Opus 6), published in 1771. In a brilliant new recording, the Toronto-based Eybler Quartet pays tribute to this charming and innovative mind. Featuring violinist Aisslinn Nosky, Concertmaster of Boston’s own Handel and Haydn Society, the ensemble praises the set of six pieces as “the cheeriest, happiest classical recording” they have made to-date:

“In our rehearsal and recording process, we quickly exhausted the words 'charming,' 'delightful,' and 'sweet,' reaching for 'sunny,' 'bright,' 'friendly,' and in one case, a made-up word, 'nostohedon,' or 'nostalgia with pleasure in place of pain.' Among the moments of wistfulness, yearning and intensity, we drew on our own characterizations, such as 'kid's party,' 'slightly tipsy Maggie Smith sipping a Mimosa,' 'gormless Prince Charming,' and, my personal favourite... 'ocelots on the loose!'”

Dedicated to the authenticity of the works, the ensemble performs the quartets on period instruments – instruments made in the exact fashion of the time period of the compositions themselves. The associated elegance of Viennese Classical music is apparent as ever in this album, and the quartet’s intimacy is perfectly balanced with an electrifying passion.

Listen to a track:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit the Eybler Quartet's online store.

Track listing:
1-3. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 1 in F
4-6. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 2 in E
7-9. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 3 in C
10-12. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 4 in G
13-15. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 5 in A
16-18. Vanhal: Six Quartets, Op. 6: No. 6 in B-flat