Haydn: Op.50 String Quartets

Haydn: Op.50 String Quartets
Quatuor Zaïde
NoMadMusic NMM027. 59’05 + 52.01

Haydn’s Op.50 (Prussian) String Quartets are amongst his finest musical creations, and yet are relatively unknown, apart from the two given the later nicknames of The Dream and The Frog. Composed in 1787, the set was dedicated to Frederick William II of Prussia (apparently in return for a gold ring sent to Haydn by the King), hence the nickname. The fact that he played the cello might explain the opening of the first quartet, with its solo cello repetition of notes. The six quartets are perhaps less immediately appealing and populist than his earlier Op.33 set, and seem to feature Haydn in a more intense and, perhaps, more intellectual mood. The movements usually only explore one theme, perhaps suggesting that Haydn wanted to concentrate on the developmental possibilities of a single theme. Although each has the same four movement format, they are all very different in style, notably the 4th, in the dark key of F# minor, and with its curiously intensely wrought final fugue. Continue reading