Haydn: String Quartets

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: ASV Gold
ALBUM TITLE: Haydn String Quartets
WORKS: String Quartets
PERFORMER: The Lindsays
CATALOGUE NO: GLD 4012
Haydn composed these quartets,

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together with the three of his Op. 74,

in 1793, between his two visits to

London. All six were dedicated to the

Viennese Imperial chamberlain Count

Apponyi, though there’s no doubt they

were composed with an eye towards

Salomon’s Hanover Square concerts.

Their widely spaced sonorities and

bold gestures indicate that they

must always have been conceived for

public performance, and it’s not by

chance that all six works begin with an

imperious call to attention. It’s a measure of the prodigious

number of great string quartets Haydn

composed that such splendid works

can remain so little known. The

Lindsays do them proud, with playing

that manages to combine energy and

insight with warmth and affection.

The ardour of the slow movements is

beautifully conveyed; but I also liked

the lilting treatment of the Ländlerlike

minuet in No. 3, and the delicate

playing of the trio in No. 1. Above all,

these sound like real performances,

not studio patchwork. The Lindsays’

only serious rival is the Amadeus

Quartet, whose recordings still sound

wonderfully fresh after nearly 30 years.

The Amadeus are technically just that

bit more assured, too, and they bring a

unique vivaciousness and lightness to

such pieces as the finale of Op. 71/1,

and the opening movement of No. 3.

But this very well recorded new disc is

strongly recommended to all Haydn

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lovers. Misha Donat