Haydn, Bart—k, Beethoven

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Beethoven,Haydn
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: String Quartet in D, Op. 20/4
PERFORMER: Edinburgh Quartet
Full marks to the Edinburgh Quartet for presenting an attractive mixed programme of the kind that can be listened to at a single sitting, as though it were a concert. The only pity is that the playing itself is so uneven in quality. The gypsy-style finale of the Haydn D major Quartet – perhaps the most forward-looking of the pieces in his Op. 20 set – is carried off with considerable panache, thanks to the lively playing of the Quartet’s leader, Susanne Stanzeleit, and the outer movements of the Beethoven C minor are attacked with gusto; but for the rest these are unexceptional performances, generally lacking in colour and firm characterisation. The gossamer-textured second movement of the Beethoven is insufficiently delicate, and it’s difficult to know why Stanzeleit alters the rhythm in the more lyrical continuation of the main subject, making it more sharply dotted than Beethoven intended. A more serious shortcoming is the flaccid account of the Bartók, which pays scant regard to the stabbing sforzato accents that play such an important part in its finale, and which seriously mishandles the long accelerando linking the slow opening movement (a lament for the end of a youthful love-affair) to the middle movement. Misha Donat