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Maxwell Quartet - Haydn: String Quartets Op. 71 - American Record Guide

Opus 71 is three quartets; up to this point Haydn usually published them in sets of six. These are the first quartets he wrote after his great success in London—that is, they are of the same period as the London Symphonies (93-104). They are mature Haydn, full of sparkle and confidence. The notes tell us that the second one is the most lyrical, but my favorite is the first, which seems to me the most typical Haydn. Each quartet lasts about 20 minutes.

The Maxwell Quartet is young men who met 2010-2014 at the Royal Scottish Conservatory. They think Haydn often used folk-like themes and styles, so they have played a few Scottish folk songs between the quartets and one at the end of the program.

The playing is quite beautiful. They seem to let the music itself dictate the style, so that sometimes they sound folk-influenced, sometimes very sophisticated. They do not play without vibrato, so their sound is not ugly and scratchy.

Listening to this I guess I will come to associate these quartets with Scottish folk music. But I’m keeping it for the winsome playing in Haydn.

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American Record Guide
20 June 2019