Leipziger Streichquartett

Haydn: String Quartets, Vol. 2

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The Leipzig String Quartet has sometimes offered experimental performances of Haydn, playing the movements of the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross in alternation with jazz pieces, for example. This recording of three quartets from Haydn's Op. 50 set of 1787, however, is stylistically straight up the middle. The Op. 50 quartets pair intense, closely worked-out monothematic opening movements of some length with short, rather giddy finales; in between is a fixed combination of slow movement and minuet. The Leipzigers' technical facility is of the no-visible-sweat variety, and the dry readings of the opening sonata-form movements effectively gives way to shades of lyricism and emotion as a piece develops. The real star, as is often the case with Germany's MDG label, is the sound; the Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster is the farmhouse of the former Marienmünster Abbey, a sonically clear but intimate two-story building that stands in admirably for the rooms at Esterháza palace where this music would originally have been heard. By any measure this is a solid choice that could fit into any varied collection of strong Haydn quartet performances.

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