Cuarteto Casals

Haydn: String Quartets Op. 33

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Cuarteto Casals, named after the great Spanish cellist, reveals a different side of Joseph Haydn in its recording of his six String Quartets, Op. 33 -- a younger, fresher, friskier, and altogether livelier side of the man fondly known as Papa Haydn. As with their recording of Mozart's early quartets, Cuarteto Casals approaches music of the classical period with admirable energy and obvious affection. One gets sprung rhythms, buoyant tempos, poised balances, alert ensembles, and above all, extraordinary beauty of tone. The Spanish group's attacks and releases are clean, and the tone is rich, full, and blended, but the best aspect of the performances is the manifest fondness for the music. The "Joke" Quartet is wryly witty, the "Bird" Quartet slyly silly, and the B minor Quartet achingly lyrical and deeply soulful, especially in the central Andante. Some listeners may prefer the incisive accounts of the Kodaly Quartet or the probing readings of the Quatuor Mosaïques, but there is much to enjoy in these lithe and lovely performances. Harmonia Mundi's digital sound is close, warm, and enveloping.

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