Haydn: The last quartets: Op. 77/1 & 2; Op. 103

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: The last quartets: Op. 77/1 & 2; Op. 103
PERFORMER: Quatuor Festetics
CATALOGUE NO: HMA 1903001 DDD (1991)
These works were among Haydn’s final compositions; indeed, Op. 103 comprises only the two inner movements of a never-completed quartet. Yet there is no hint of failing strength. Rather, these pieces represent a distillation of the skills accrued in his 30 years’ experience of quartet writing. Though lacking the special flair of the full price Quatuor Mosaïques (Astrée), the Quatuor Festetics, playing period instruments, are polished, sensitive and the pick of the cheaper issues. Graham Lock