Notes and Editorial Reviews
BRIDGE 9326A/B (2 CDs: 130:08)
What utterly delightful, charming performances these are. The Daedalus Quartet, formed in 2000, is a group of young musicians formerly unknown to me, but you can bet I’ll be looking out for future releases by them. Fans of HIP performance style will hate them—they play with vibrato, legato, elegance, charm, and warmth, all elements the HIP crowd generally abhors—but I love them. Their performance style puts me
in mind of the old Pro Arte Quartet’s Haydn series from the 1930s. They have the full measure of early Haydn: the lightness, the subtle humor, and the kind of relaxation that makes the music sing. Since none of the op. 20 quartets are among the composer’s most energetic or dramatic works, I don’t know yet how this approach would work in later pieces, but I’m willing to believe that they know the difference. This is the kind of CD set that’s absolutely perfect for a summer afternoon and/or settling jangled nerves while still engaging the mind in the joyful intricacies of the musical discourse. Highly recommended.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
It's hard to imagine a healthier or more satisfying musical pleasure than curling up with a score and a splendid new recording of Haydn's Op. 20 quartets, which are among the truly epochal monuments of the classical repertoire. The 130 minutes these performances occupy simply flew by, and indeed my only quibble with them is that they don't go on a bit longer. Haydn lavishes a lot of care, particularly in these quartets, in making sure that his second-half repeats make sense; but the Daedalus Quartet, though generally very intelligent in its decisions, perhaps should have observed more of them. Ultimately it's a matter of taste, but when the music-making is this good we can afford to be picky.
Otherwise, these performances offer an ideal combination of sensitivity and vigor. In the moderato opening movements of Nos. 1, 2, and 5, the players find ideal tempos--fluid, but measured enough to characterize their rich details. Similarly, the three concluding fugues really dance, their textures wonderfully clear (particularly the C major), with Haydn's persistent "sotto voce" indication never precluding apt characterization of the music's polyphonic lines. The slow movements also flow beautifully, with the Capriccio of No. 2 being particularly dramatic, and the Siciliano of No. 5 especially poignant. Bridge's engineering is great: warm, well-balanced, and with a very welcome absence of heavy breathing from the players. Great stuff, and an easy recommendation.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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