This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This set, alongside the Tokyo String Quartet's Haydn Op. 20 and Op. 76 (both long unavailable), comprises some of the finest Haydn quartet playing in the catalog. Arkivmusic.com has done chamber music lovers a huge favor in making these Op. 50 recordings available, and we can only hope that they do the same with the other two sets. Of all Haydn's mature quartets, Op. 50 may be the most difficult. This doesn't mean they aren't great and expressive works. The D major quartet ("The Frog") always has been popular, and the F-sharp minor quartet contains some of Haydn's most passionate inspiration, as well as his last great fugue for strings.
This last point drives home what may
be the signal distinguishing characteristic of this particular opus: its formal ingenuity. Most people yawn when the subject of form comes up, and with good reason: a lot of composers handle form is a dull way. Haydn though, let us not forget, invented the forms that later composers treated so mechanically, and his way is that of a master chef with an unlimited range of ingredients. Charles Rosen praised the opening of the B-flat quartet as a particularly impressive example of creating an imposing and expressive structure out of practically nothing at all.
Be that as it may, and beyond the attractiveness of many of the tunes, in order to get the most out of this music you simply have to enjoy hearing form take shape before your ears, and that's just what makes these performances so satisfying. There isn't a perfunctory note anywhere: tempos are perfectly chosen, rhythms are sharp and clean, the balances ideal. The players invariably know where the music is going and how best to get there. I don't need to single out particular examples: there are no weaknesses or inconsistencies in any of the six pieces. With excellent sonics, no serious string quartet collection can afford to neglect this set.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
String Quartet in B flat, op 50 no 1: I. Allegro vivace
String Quartet in B flat, op 50 no 1: IV. Finale: Vivace
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