Lately I’ve been hearing—and reviewing—a lot of string quartets played by ensembles with 25 years or more experience, with little change in personnel: the Auryn, Buchberger, Pražák, Schoenberg. The Edding Quartet (Baptiste Lopez, Caroline Bayet, Paul De Clerk, and Ageet Zweistra) made these recordings in 2008, the year after it was founded. Perhaps it lacks the last word in precisionRead more that decades together may bring, but it certainly has a fresh perspective on the music and delivers exuberant playing. The opening Allegro moderato of op. 77/1 is played with all the bounce of the Emerson’s 2001 recording, but at consensus tempos (the Emerson is unusually slow). Among other period-instrument recordings, the Smithson Quartet is excellent but quite conventional; the Buchberger, at a quicker pace, produces a sweet blend that is just right for this music. The Edding’s cello is not as warm and solid as the Buchberger’s, but its inner voices are clearer, aided by a close, vibrant recording in the Sint Pieterskerk in Leut, a small village in Belgium. The space is resonant without producing any excess reverberation. The Menuet is exceptionally rapid; although the Edding attacks the trio with gusto, it cannot generate quite enough rhythmic bite at this speed. The Presto finale is also the quickest I have heard; every note and rhythm perfectly in place, the result a joy. In short, this recording is in a class with the finest ones of op. 77/1, including The Lindsays. Not bad for a yearling! It could be my top choice were it not for what sounds like a bad splice at the ff in measure 99, at 4:21 of the opening movement. The F-Major Quartet is equally fine. The Andante is taken very slowly, running over eight-and-a-half minutes with all repeats, and the finale is again a fast, joyous romp.
But it is the Edding’s op. 103 that makes this disc a must for Haydn lovers. It takes the opening Andante grazioso at almost Allegro, and its colorful period strings dig deep. I have always felt that Beethoven influenced Haydn as much as vice versa (despite the problems in their personal relationship), and this performance supports that argument. The rapid tempo strikes me as just right, making other performances at hand (Smithson, Buchberger, The Lindsays) seem lackadaisical by comparison. The Menuet, too, is faster than I have ever heard it—and all the stronger for it. These two movements, contemporary with Beethoven’s Second Symphony, are Haydn at the top of his game.
High Octane HaydnJuly 10, 2014By owen r. (lakewood, CA)See All My Reviews"This is not chamber music to take a nap with. The Eddings take quartets 1 and 2 and makes them their own. This is not a bad thing as they infuse these works with high energy and exciting music making. The purist might not approve but the music lover should embrace these performances as revelatory. The recording puts you right in feront of the instruments to where you can almost hear the rosin on the bows grabbing the strings. Mr. North finds an anamoly in the recording at one point but my old ears did not detect it and I think 95% of the listeners will not either."Report Abuse