Thursday, 5 May 2016

Haydn - String Quartets Op.50 - Quatuor Zaïde

Rating: 5/5

Excellent Haydn

This is a cracking recording of a rather less frequently heard set of Haydn's quartets.  I've never been sure why these aren't as often performed or recorded as, say the Op.64 or Op.76 sets because they have all the same depth, charm and wit, which is fully brought out by Quatuor Zaïde.

The cover photo looks rather like a selfie taken by four young women heading for a big night on the town – and the music sounds rather as though that's what they're doing.  It's full of youthful zing and joy, but never lacks delicacy or emotion where appropriate.  What really comes across here is Haydn's wit and twinkle, and the verve in much of the music is a real pleasure.  Those repeated notes on the cello in the opening movement of the first quartet, for example, aren't just a measured base for the rest of the quartet to work around; they almost swing, and that sheer joy in the music and the playing of it together sparkles throughout.  Technically the quartet are excellent with impeccable intonation to my ears and a real precision when it matters, so this is proper music-making but with real flair.

I have a couple of other recordings of the Op.50 Quartets by The Angeles Quartet and The Lindsays.  Both are very good in their different ways, but I prefer Quatuor Zaïde to either.  The recorded sound is very good and the performance a pleasure from the first note to the last.  Very warmly recommended.

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