Notes and Editorial Reviews
String Quartets: op. 50/1, 4, 5
Leipzig String Quartet
MDG 307 1585-2 (67:48)
From the six string quartets of op. 20 (preceded by 31 string quartets) to the two of op. 77, there are 45 remarkable works (excluding the
Seven Last Words,
which itself is also remarkable) in this form from Haydn’s pen. My familiarity with these quartets began relatively late in life, leaving me with the ambivalence of regret for being so tardy and of thankfulness for not
being too late. The six op. 50 quartets lie at about the 40-percent mark of the total 45, and the three offered here are in my view the most attractive of this group of six. All six, however (all 45, for that matter), are strongly attractive pieces—remarkable in invention, distinctiveness, and musicality.
In these performances, the Leipzig String Quartet uses moderately restrained vibrato and observes all repeats (except those in the
). Both of these practices are important contributors to the success of these performances. The Leipzigs approach the music cautiously, sometimes soulfully, yet know to let loose when appropriate, for example, in the memorable Vivace final movements of No. 1 and No. 5. At all times, each of the four voices is discernable. While Haydn’s string quartet part-writing was not as consistently developed as Mozart’s, its importance remains. Haydn was more open than Mozart in his use of humor, and he was more daring than Mozart in resorting to unconventional keys; e.g., E? Minor in the second variation of the op. 50/1 Adagio and F? Major to conclude the first movement and to begin the Menuetto of op. 50/4 (which is in the un-Mozartean key of F? Minor, the slow movement of Mozart’s K 488 piano concerto notwithstanding).
In competition, the Lindsays have recorded all 45 quartets in performances that excel in their verve and in the success of that group’s willingness to take chances in its interpretive approach, but intonation weakness is too often its principal failure. In its op. 50/4, there is too much out-of-tune playing by the first violin to make it a competitor to the Leipzig performance of that quartet.
The members of the 21-year-old Leipzig String Quartet on this disc are Stefan Arzberger and Tilman Büning (violins), Ivo Bauer (viola), and Matthias Moosdorf (cello). Three of its members were first chairs of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The quartet has concertized throughout the U.S. as well as throughout the world. It has recorded the complete string quartets of Schubert and of other composers. I can only hope that a “complete” (op. 20 and above) Haydn would be one of its eventual goals.
This is a Haydn quartet disc that I highly recommend.
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title