Festetics Quartet

Haydn: Collection Complete des Quatuors, Vol. 8 - Les Quatuors Oeuvres 73 & 74 (Opp. 71 & 74)

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In the penultimate volume of a luxuriously packaged series of recordings of Haydn's string quartets, the Festetics Quatuor turns in characteristically sensitive performances of the six quartets published as Opus 73 (formerly Opus 71) and 74, the composer's next-to-last sets of works in the genre he virtually invented. As always in this series, the Hungarian group favors deliberate tempos and emotional interpretations. The judicious Allegro spiritoso that opens the F major Quartet from Opus 74 is ideally poised, but the Presto that closes the same work does not have quite enough thrust and point. There is much to admire in Festetics Quatuor's richly upholstered and deeply affecting account of the Largo assai. On the other hand, the heavy attack and slower tempo in the E flat major Quartet's opening Vivace may seem too weighty for Haydn's ebullient music. Still, the group's balanced textures and assured ensemble are consistently appealing. Arcana's 1995 digital sound is clear and clean, with just a hint of hall ambience.

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