The Lindsays

Haydn: String Quartet Opp. 77, 42 & 103

(CD - ASV / ASV Gold #4010)

Review by

When they formed in the late '60s, the Lindsays, then known as the Lindsay String Quartet, were a different kind of British quartet. Although they did not altogether eschew elegance, they espoused a more bracing attack, a more robust sonority, and a more aggressive ensemble than previous British quartets. For some, the result was incredibly exciting and tremendously challenging. For others, it was just too much for the music to bear. This 2004 recording of three complete works and one substantial fragment by Haydn shows that the Lindsays haven't grown mellow with advancing age. Indeed, the reverse seems to be the case. In the pair of late Opus 77 quartets, the Lindsays' playing is faster, harder, and edgier than nearly any other recorded performances of the works, while in the earlier D minor Quartet, Op. 42, and the late and incomplete D minor Quartet, Op. 103, they push the music so far toward the proto-Romantic that the works sound more like Schubert than Haydn. For some, this may be a good thing, removing layers of interpretive varnish to reveal the knotty music beneath. For others, it may be just too much, stripping away the charm and, worse, the identity of the music along with the elegance. ASV's sound is close, warm, and deep.

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