Auryn Quartet performs Haydn’s Quartets
It is quite well known that Haydn was the “father” of the classical symphony. Among 104 of his surviving symphonies, many are great masterpieces that are performed and enjoyed to this day. It is less well known that Haydn was also one of the greatest string quartet composers. And certainly Haydn brought amazing humor to many of his compositions. It is unfortunate that all too often the performing groups are not aware of this humor when they play Haydn’s works.
This is NOT the case with the Auryn Quartet, which provides us with a wonderful performance of the six of Haydn’s Op. 33 quartets on this CD. Specifically, we hear the Op. 33 numbers 1 – 6.
As an example, Haydn’s string quartet Op. 33 No. 2, called “The Joke”, is one of the funniest things he ever wrote. In the finale of that quartet, Haydn composed a principal theme that breaks up into four equal pieces. By making the pauses between each phrase longer and longer, it becomes impossible to tell when the music actually ends. That’s Haydn’s way of keeping his compositions fresh, interesting, and funny.
Another example is the opening movement of the quartet No. 3 called “The Bird”. Haydn marked it Allegro moderato, but many performing groups play it far more quickly. Yet the Auryn Quartet plays this more “moderately”, and it reveals a world of mixed emotions in this music, reminding us that ultimately the music is not about birds, but about human feelings. The finale of this piece, incidentally, chirps away uninhibitedly, as it should.
Here is one of many Press quotes about the Auryn Quartet: “Just when you get complacent and think you’ve heard it all before, a new group comes to town and blows you away… A lot of today’s fine ensembles play as idiomatically and as imaginatively, but few do it as beautifully.” Washington Post
Bottom line: This is great quartet playing, and highly recommended.