Maxwell Quartet - Haydn: String Quartets Op. 71 - BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'

Haydn’s music often shows his fondness for folk music – his father was an amateur folk musician after all – and it’s thrown into the foreground by this intriguing debut recording from a Scottish foursome. The members of the Maxwell Quartet tell us that growing up surrounded by Scottish folk music they heard every melody in classical music as folk song and every rhythm as dance, a picture they paint for us by interspersing Haydn quartets with their own arrangements of Scottish folk music and, well, I think it’s most effective when you hear Haydn first.

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The Hurricane there one of Scottish fiddle player’s James Scott Skinner’s most famous reels ending that sequence of Scottish folk tunes arranged by the Maxwell Quartet, as an epilogue to Haydn’s D major, Op. 71 No. 2. You heard Haydn’s finale followed by two Scott Skinner tunes, separated by a number written by the Maxwell Quartet’s violinist George Smith, as a wedding present for his wife. Because they play the music as though they’ve known it all their lives it seems to make perfect sense. Their Haydn should be enough to earn a recommendation on its own, but interspersed with Scottish tunes it points up Haydn’s way with folk tunes and rhythms and ends with the timeless beauty of Lady MacGregor’s Lament.

BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
16 March 2019