When you find a good thing, stick with it. Or so thinks the Amsterdam String Quartet. Following on the heels of a very successful Channel Classics debut album featuring three Haydn quartets, the ASQ returns to "Papa" Haydn again for this second album. While technically specializing in period performances of composers circa 1762 to 1847, these four musicians have truly found their niche in interpreting Haydn. In fact, the ensemble is in the midst of a plan to perform all 68 of the Haydn quartets in 2009; it would do well to push for a recording to be made of each of these works and treat listeners to a full set of engaging playing. Rather than taking a chronological approach to programming, the ASQ chooses instead to draw quartets representative of different stylistic periods in Haydn's long journey with the string quartet. This album features the youthful Op. 20/4; the mature, dignified Op. 64/6; and the austere, forward-looking Op. 77/1. All three of these quartets are given the same focused attention to detail, graceful elegance, magnificent balance, clean intonation, and informed, musical interpretations. Vibrato is used with wonderful scarcity, tempos are highly contrasting, and the interplay between the four voices is entirely seamless. Channel Classics' rich, detailed SACD sound is the cherry on top of another installment by this very talented ensemble.
Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Quartet No. 52 in E flat major, Op. 64/6, H. 3/64|
|String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Op. 77/1, H. 3/81|
|String Quartet No. 27 in D major, Op. 20/4, H. 3/34|