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CD Review

Franz Joseph Haydn

String Quartets

  • String Quartet in F Sharp minor, Op. 50 #4
  • String Quartet in F Major, Op. 50 #5
  • String Quartet in D Major, Op. 50 #6 "Frog"
The Lindsays
Academy Sound & Vision Gold GLD4008 69m DDD
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Perhaps not amongst the best known of Haydn's quartets, these three from Op. 50 really turn out to be a pleasant surprise, although all of this composer's music is quite outstanding with nothing that can be honestly described as second rate! The Lindsays bring their usual panache and sense of style to proceedings, continuing to confirm their status as one of the finest quartets around.

Quartet #4 which is in F Sharp minor is excellently constructed with an intense first movement marked 'Spiritoso' whilst the Andante is also quite magical. The extremely short Finale (just over two minutes), is another example of Haydn's genius in creating masterpieces out of the miniature. The Fifth Quartet is the shortest essay out of these three but it is no less invigorating, especially in the Finale and in its lovely Poco adagio.

I greatly enjoyed the Sixth Quartet nicknamed 'The Frog' and it is quite an apt title as the music does seem to leapfrog all over the place with an abundance of panache, good humour and virtuosity. The expansive opening Allegro is quite magically played by the talented Lindsays' who also fine much mystery and beauty in the Poco adagio. The Finale is almost symphonic in breadth and nature and the whole quartet is one of the overlooked masterpieces of the genre.

The Lindsays play the music with the affection and mastery for which they are quite well known and AS&V's crystal clear recording does them perfect justice. Add Richard Wigmore's authoritative and outstanding notes to the equation and you have a disc that is definitely worth acquiring if you are a fan of Haydn or if you don't have these quite rare quartets in your collection.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech