Magazine article Gramophone

Haydn: String Quartets-Op 20 No 2

Magazine article Gramophone

Haydn: String Quartets-Op 20 No 2

Article excerpt


String Quartets--Op 20 No 2; Op 54 No 1; 'Rider', Op 74 No 3

Schuppanzigh Quartet

Accent [F] ACC24223 (64' * DDD)


Third disc of 'period' Haydn from Schuppanzigh Quartet

This is the third of three volumes of Haydn from the period-instrument Schuppanzigh Quartet, in the course of which they have dropped in on most of the major corners of the composer's quartet canon (the most curious omission being anything from Op 33). Here we get the most serious of the Op 20s from 1772, one of the exuberant 'Tost' quartets of the late 1780s and the so-called Rider Quartet from the late, masterly Op 74 set.

The sound is unmistakably 'period' in its sinewy clarity. Vibrato is used with discretion and intonation is not always what you might expect (mostly when the violins go high, although there are some very peculiar-sounding G major chords at l'52" in the second movement of Op 54 No 1). If you crave the coursing intensity of modern strings you may not go for all this, but these are certainly gutsy performances, full of life and stylistic understanding: the first movement of Op 54 No 1 has surely never been more con brio; the sharp rhythmic motifs of the Rider have a shapely spring to them; and the music's conversational energy is lucid throughout. …

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