The players of the Leipzig String Quartet come from the veteran ranks of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. They have recorded a variety of standard quartet for the German audiophile label MDG, often using an old monastery farmhouse whose sound environment is nothing short of ideal. They are in the midst of a cycle of Haydn quartets that began with some of the more unorthodox items and with volume 6 reaches the Op. 33 quartets, arguably the founding documents of the true High Classical quartet style. The quartet plays on period instruments (and modern replicas of period bows), resulting in a bright sound and precise articulation that doesn't differ sharply from modern-instrument performances. And indeed the performances fall into a long tradition. They are confident, elegant, and relaxed, with even the scherzo movements (the first movements in a major composition to be given that name) left to reveal their humor and tension on their own. The situation is the same with the complexities of harmonic development and the unexpected twists and turns in the sonata-form movements: these are clean, expert, rather neutral performances. The sound is definitely a major attraction. You'll find many other performances of these works, some of a more activist cast, but the list of elegant readings with such strong acoustics is considerably shorter.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|String Quartet in C major, op. 33/3 , Hob. 3:39|
|String Quartet in B minor, op. 33/1 , Hob. 3:37|
|String Quartet G major, op. 33/5 , Hob. 3:41|