Notes and Editorial Reviews
META4 (period instruments)
HÄNSSLER 98.587 (57:38)
Four casually dressed youngsters, a girl and three boys, adorn the cover. Scowling into the camera, they look like a teen-aged gang. They are Finns, and I quail at the challenge of spelling their names: from first violin to cello, Antti Tikkanen, Minna Pensola, Atte Kilpeläinen, and Tomas Djupsjöbacka. Formed in 2001, the quartet has won the usual honors and awards (usual, that is, for
quartets which make recordings on major labels) and has played in the major chamber halls internationally—only the Concertgebouw is absent from its résumé. This is META4’s debut recording, and it’s a beauty. It employs ancient instruments, including a Stradivarius violin, and is well attuned to period practices.
The notes include a no doubt well-prepared interview with the quartet. One question and its answer hit the nail on the head so perfectly that I would like to quote them:
What makes Haydn so special for you? Haydn is so full of wit, humor and surprises! It’s all very down to earth and at the same time very purifying, individually and for the group in particular. Everything is so simply naked, nobody can hide anywhere, musically speaking. For his music to work, you really need to get a good sense of swing and rhythm, a groove. That makes it fun!
META4 does all of that. It brings the rather serious op. 55 quartets to sparkling life, mixing care with enthusiasm. They follow Haydn’s markings more closely than the Buchberger Quartet, but I like the latter even better in op. 55 for its solid, strong cello and for its greater clarity with inner lines. META4 does not play second repeats in sonata-form movements (neither does the Buchberger, except in op. 55/3) and, like many ensembles, plays eight-bar repeats in slow movements but not 16-bar ones. The recorded sound is excellent—on both sets. META4 is at a disadvantage monetarily: This is a full-price CD, whereas the Buchberger is available on a two-CD set of op. 54 and 55 for about $11, making META4 at last three times as expensive. The Buchberger set of the complete Haydn string quartets is just about to be issued (August 11, 2009), and its op. 55 is also in Brilliant Classics’ 150-CD “Haydn Edition” (
Regardless of such comparisons, this is a fine CD, an admirable introduction to the young ensemble. I look forward to hearing more from META4.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Strings in A major, Op. 55 no 1/H 3 no 60 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Tomas Djupsjöbacka (Cello),
Atte Kipelainen (Viola),
Minna Pensola (Violin),
Antti Tikkanen (Violin)
META4 String Quartet
Written: 1788; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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