Quatuor Mosaïques

Haydn: String Quartets, Opp. 64, 76, 77

(CD - Naïve #8924)

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In addition to brilliant virtuosity, effortless ensemble, warm lines, rich textures, and a buoyant sense of rhythm, the qualities that distinguish Quatuor Mosaïques' performances are the naturalness of the playing and the depths of the insights. In this five-disc collection of Haydn's Opp. 64, 76, and 77 string quartets, Quatuor Mosaïques doesn't sound like it's playing music that's 200 years old; it sounds like it is improvising it on the spot. The individualistic unanimity achieved by the one French and three Austrian members of the group could be compared with that of a great jazz quartet wailing together on a standard. The group's seamless phrasing, unforced dynamic shifts, graceful touches of rubato, and smooth transitions all bespeak years of intimacy with each other and with the music. There is deep feeling in the quartet's performances and deep insight, as well: passion in the Adagio cantabile e sostenuto from Op. 64/4, fire in the Presto Finale of Op. 76/3, and almost unbearable intensity in the Andante grazioso from the unfinished Op. 103. Anyone who enjoys great music or great playing will want to hear these performances. The sound is so transparent that the listener seems to be in the room with the musicians.

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