Maxwell Quartet - Haydn: String Quartets Op. 74 - Folk Music from Scotland - All Music

This release follows a similar one by the Maxwell Quartet, covering the Op. 74 string quartets of Haydn and framing them with the group's own quartet arrangements of Scottish folk songs. The stated aims this time are a little more general; the quartet in its note simply speaks of embracing the differences and enjoying the parallels between Haydn and folk music, rather than comparing the folk songs to a folkish and public strain in Haydn's music. That's probably preferable. The truth is that the relationship between the two elements of the program is a bit nebulous, and it's odd that no notice is taken of Haydn's arrangements of Scottish songs for piano trio. This said, the album is nowhere less than enjoyable. The set of Scottish songs this time is especially interesting and varied, beginning with a pair (Coilsfield House - Drunk at Night, Dry in the Morning) from the father-and-son team of Niel and Nathaniel Gow, who did much to codify Scottish folk music as a distinct body of work. The Maxwell's Haydn is broad, energetic, and technically brilliant. One may miss a note of humor in the minuets and the String Quartet in C major, Op. 74, No. 1, which really has two minuets, but the group's playing succeeds on its own terms. The same can't be said of Linn's sound from the Yehudi Menuhin School; it is much too intimate and close-up and conveys little of the well-upholstered ambiance in which these works would originally have been heard.

All Music
16 March 2021