London Haydn Quartet

Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 64

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The main attraction of this set of Haydn's Op. 64 quartets is not the use of the London Forster Edition promised in the graphics -- that edition is commonly found and has been used for many other performances and recordings. Instead, the distinctive feature is the use of historical bows and gut strings, giving the set an edgy, somewhat fantastical flavor. This is part of a complete Haydn cycle from the London Haydn Quartet, which aims to bring accessible, historically informed interpretations to a wide audience. The group seems to have settled into a more comfortable acquaintance with the music of their namesake as the set has proceeded, and it tends toward brisk tempi attractively combined with elegant phrasing, as you can hear in the complex, consistently surprising opening movement of the String Quartet in G major, Op. 64, No. 4. The most famous quartet in the set, the String Quartet in D major, Op. 64, No. 5 ("The Lark"), lives up to its nickname with its swooping melody even if the nickname was not Haydn's own, and the slow movements in general are engaging and charming. Recommended, especially for anyone interested in a historically informed interpretation of these much-played quartets.

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