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The reign of King Friedrich Wilhelm II was relatively brief and his greatest claim to fame today is the building of the Brandenburg Gate. But as a patron of the arts, many notable chamber works were penned for him, including all three quartets featured in this program.

The dedication to King Friederich is said to have come about after Haydn received a letter from him praising Haydn for the Paris symphonies. The letter enclosed a gift of a golden ring. To honour this, Haydn dedicated the Op.50 quartets to him.

Mozart’s set of three Prussian quartets, with their prominent cello solos, were almost certainly written to please the amateur cellist King. The third quartet in F major was one of the last quartets he composed, and it displays many of the composer’s trademark qualities - uneven phrases, sudden tempo changes, ingenious rhythms and novel harmonic shifts. The ending is a poetic stroke of mastery in itself, with the music lifting and dissolving into the ether.

Pleyel, a student of Haydn (of whom Haydn was quite proud), also dedicated twelve quartets to the King. Of these, the AHE Quartet presents Quartet No.9 in G minor.

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  • Haydn
    String Quartet Op.50 No.1 in B flat major (Prussian Quartets)
    String Quartet in G minor Ben.339 (Prussian Quartets)
    String Quartet No.23 K.590 in F major (Third Prussian)