HAYDN: String Quartets Op. 9, Nos. 1-6 – Auryn Quartet [Vol. 3 of 14] – Tacet 190, (2 CDs) 134:46 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
The Op. 9 quartets are the first full formed grouping of the genre that Haydn created. Yes, while it is true that there are several sets prior to this listed among the canonical quartets, notably opuses 1 and 2, those are essentially divertimenti and not true string quartets as the form would become, largely under Haydn’s guidance. These works on this recording are each four movements apiece, with a minuet occupying the second movement spot followed by an adagio. This would continue to be the standard for some time.
We don’t really know—and we can’t for certain—whether the prominence given to the first violin—almost severely virtuosic—is because Haydn envisioned quartet writing like this or whether it was the presence of Luigi Tomasini, a gifted virtuoso in residence at the Esterhazy court, who inspired it. None of the passages of the other instruments even approach these sorts of pyrotechnical demands. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to assume that these works are not the product of a fully functional master composer, almost 40 years old at the time.
The entire Tacet series featuring the Auryn Quartet continues to be one of the most exceptional on the market today, recorded in splendid sound with spectacular playing, and is deserving of the highest recommendation.
— Steven Ritter
Rafal Blechacz Plays Chopin – DG
“An hour of pure Chopin enchantment…”