Haydn: String Quartets – No 1 in B flat major, Op 1 No 1; No 41 in G major, Op 33 No 5; No 81 in G major, Op 77 No 1

Reviewed on Wed 21 Dec, 2016

In the booklet interview the artists rightly observe how swiftly Haydn established the quartet form and the criteria against which quartet playing is judged: intonation, articulation, phrasing and balance. Each aspect is apparent in the Goldmund’s sensuously moulded sound and contributes to each work catching the ear.

The youthful German musicians of the Goldmund Quartet will garner widespread attention for their debut studio recording that includes three works spanning Haydn’s exploration of the string quartet form. In the booklet interview the artists rightly observe how swiftly Haydn established the quartet form and the criteria against which quartet playing is judged: intonation, articulation, phrasing and balance. Each aspect is apparent in the Goldmund’s sensuously moulded sound and contributes to each work catching the ear. Op 1 No 1 – a five-movement divertimento-like work in B flat major – is played with joyful élan, its freshness adding to the lively prestos and minuets whilst the central adagio registers depth of feeling. The humour of the more conventionally structured and densely constructed Op 33 No 5 in G major is easily captured, the faithful and spacious recording allowing individual lines to register unobtrusively. The harmonic daring of Op 77 No 1 (also in G major) offers the Goldmund opportunities for virtuosity and revelry in equal measure, yet never to Haydn’s detriment. Should you be seeking your first recording of this repertoire or already have one with your quartet of choice but are interested in an alternative, I strongly recommend the Goldmund Quartet. Naxos’s bargain price seals the deal. Delightful!
–Evan Dickerson