Franz Joseph Haydn, HAYDN: String Quartets Op 20, Nos 1- 3, ‘Sun Quartets’

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Quartets that are far broader and richer than Haydn’s simpler early compositions.

Haydn wrote 80-odd quartets in his life, the first great body of literature for the combination, and the Op. 20 set from 1772, the "Sun" quartets, are his earliest ones heard regularly in concert. (Unlike the nicknames for most Haydn works, the word "Sun" isn't descriptive of the music itself, but of the first printed edition, which had a drawing of the sun on the cover.) The music is broader and richer than in Haydn's earlier, simpler quartets, with more interesting interplay (interesting for both listeners and performers) among the instruments. The Kodaly Quartet has recorded all Haydn's quartets, and they play with a combination of strength and clarity, polish and vigor, which is ideal for this music.