Apponyi Quartett

Joseph Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 33

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Haydn's set of Six Quartets, Op. 33, represented another large step on his road in the development of the string quartet genre. After a 10-year hiatus following the publication of the Op. 20 quartets, Op. 33 is filled with an abundance of fresh ideas; novel treatments of the four instruments; a wealth of melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic invention; and a further of the equal partnership within the quartet. It was this set of quartets that inspired Mozart's so-called "Haydn Quartets" and set the stage for the late, great quartets that were still to come. This Ars Musici two-disc set features the Appónyi Quartett, an ensemble of the section leaders of the Freiburger Baroque Orchestra. From a technical standpoint, the Appónyi Quartett puts forth a meticulous, detail-oriented performance. Even the most nimble moments (such as the Presto finales of quartets 1, 3, and 4) are executed with brilliant crispness and focus, with extremely tight articulation throughout the quartet. Balance is given ample consideration, which is rather appropriate given the importance Haydn placed on the significance and independence of individual instruments. Playing on period instruments, the Appónyi Quartett clearly strives for a historically accurate performance. Still, some listeners may find that the rather hallow, treble-heavy sound detracts from the many other positive attributes of the playing.

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