It really is no surprise that Joseph Haydn’s string quartets have remained so popular with audiences. Why? Because when they were composed my sense is that they were way ahead of their times. Today I have for you a new recording with three quarters from the Opus 20 that are able to prove this to you…
Haydn: ‘Sun’ Quartets Op.20, Nos. 1-3 (Vol. 1)
String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 1 in E flat major
String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 2 in C Major
String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 3 in G minor
Performed by the Chiaroscuro Quartet
The six so-called ‘Sun’ quartets of Joseph Haydn’s Op.20 are often said to represent an unprecedented flowering of his string quartet writing, establishing an example to which every other subsequent composer of quartets has paid his respect.
The Op.20 quartets are examples of Haydn’s flexibility, variety and unpredictability. Every bar is full of a sense of musical adventure, a feeling that Haydn is creating a new vision of four-part string writing.
On this first volume, the first three quartets of the set are performed by the Chiaroscuro Quartet, a highly international ensemble formed in 2005 by the violinists Alina Ibragimova (Russia) and Pablo Hernán Benedí (Spain), the Swedish violist Emilie Hörnlund and cellist Claire Thirion from France.
The quartet plays on instruments with gut strings, and its unique sound is admired by audiences and critics all over Europe.
The Chiaroscuro Quartet received Germany’s most prestigious CD award in 2015, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.
Here is the Chairoscuro quartet, rehearsing, talking, and playing: