London Haydn Quartet

Haydn: String Quartets Opp 71 & 74

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The London Haydn Quartet's cycle of Haydn string quartets has combined several distinctive features. The recordings have used a variety of editions from Haydn's own time, theoretically offering a more detailed idea of Haydn's intentions than do those drawing on 19th century traditions. The 1796 editions used here don't contain anything earthshaking, but they contain small details of dynamics that close listeners will find fresh. Even better, the approach of the London Haydn Quartet matches these editions. The approach is detailed and rather dry, using gut strings and period bows, and it clearly elucidates the intricate structure of the opening movements of the Op. 71 and Op. 74 quartets, several of which open with a single simple kernel that is profoundly elaborated. The London Haydn Quartet steers clear of the usual jocular Haydn persona, and you may find the minuets lacking in wit. Sample and determine for yourself (the Minuet and Trio of the String Quartet in F major, Op. 74, No. 2, is representative), but it's easy to see why the quartet's Haydn recordings are finding a niche in the marketplace.

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