String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 4 in D major ‘Sun’
String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 5 in F minor
String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 6 in A Major
Performed by the Chiaroscuro Quartet
The so-called ‘Sun’ quartets of Joseph Haydn’s Op. 20 are often said to represent an unprecedented flowering of his string quartet writing, establishing a high watermark to which every other subsequent composer of quartets has paid homage. These six quartets are not a monument of compositional propriety, rather, it is their flexibility, variety and unpredictability that make them so compelling.
Every bar of these works is full of a sense of musical adventure, a palpable feeling that Haydn is creating bridges between styles and ideas and forging a composite vision of four-part string writing that draws on every historical source that he knew as well as the furthest reaches of his musical imagination.
On this second volume, the last three quartets of the set are performed by the Chiaroscuro Quartet, an 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 the previous instalment was singled out as a recommended disc by The Strad, whose reviewer described its contents as ‘period-instrument performances of the utmost subtlety and refinement’.
The Gurdian recently wrote the following:
“ The playing is intense and refined, exploratory and poised. The sound is featherweight, but there is grit and substance when needed. Alina Ibragimova leads with typical grace and ferocity, but this is real chamber music: the attack is immaculate and spirited from all four musicians.”
Here are these four musicians as they speak and play during the recording session of Volume number 1: