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Haydn: String Quartets

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Those are interesting comments and perhaps answer a question of mine about these presentations other than the sound. Your concept of the performances being too earthbound rings true for me. I do not find these presentations to be inspiring; there is no evident spark to illuminate this music for me thus far. But that is just to my humble ear. I was hoping that, as the music evolved in the later works, this style of presentation will suit this later music more appropriately.

Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 54 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]

Op. 54 was more what I was looking forward to as the music moved along chronologically. The robust playing and the very forward presentation of the recording better suit the more mature music, to my ear. The presentation sounds less bombastic and more invigorating and engaging for me in these works. The music making also sounds more vital. I am still finding the slow movements to be somewhat pedantic and uninspiring however. Once again, the quality of the musicianship is unquestioned.

Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 55 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]

I have enjoyed these performances as much as those of Op. 54 with the same reservations about the presentation of the slow movements which still feel a bit cumbersome to me. However, I did particularly like the slow movement in Op. 55/3. It was quite engaging and it felt more intense.

String Quartets, Op. 64 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]

Op. 64 started off very well with good poise and pacing and not being overly assertive in the delivery of No. 1. Op. 64/2 was also very engaging, particularly the slow movement and the Menuet. The music and the ensemble are in full flow in the opening of Op.64/3 and that fluidity continues throughout the work. With  Op. 64/4, I found the performance of the opening movement to be on the heavy handed side but with the rest of the work being well balanced and engaging. I particularly liked Op. 64/5 throughout. Op. 64/6 was not top drawer for me. Without reiterating earlier points discussed this felt a little laboured to my ear with the exception of the final movement, [notably] marked Presto.

Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 71 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]

The Festetics Quartet sounded smoother, softer and more rounded in Op. 71/1. There were very few jagged edges for me in this music making. However the slow movement, Adagio, sounds more like it is leaning towards a Lento to my ear. Otherwise it is well played in a balanced recording. In Op. 71/2 I liked the way that they generally handled the tempi at various points throughout the work. The faster Tempi are bright, energetic and lively. Interestingly, I really like the performance of the slow movement in this version. The recorded sound is well balanced here with the viola and cello not appearing over prominent or harshly recorded. Op. 71/3 is well played, well paced and well recorded even if the cello is a tad prominent, particularly in the Menuet.


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