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String Quartets Opus 74, 1-3

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 4, 1992
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 4, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000013QL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,698 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Mark Amorose on April 8, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Of Haydn's approximately 70 string quartets, at least 45 are "profound and profoundly different, absolutely flawless" masterpieces (according to Hans Keller, author of the definitive study of Haydn's quartets). In this magnificent (in both senses of the word) body of music, I find that the later a work was composed the more undeniably it deserves the title "masterpiece." Thus, the three quartets of Opus 74, written toward the end of Haydn's prolific career, are among his best.
The Kodaly Quartet took ten years (c. 1989-1998) to record the complete cycle of Haydn quartets on the budget-priced Naxos label; their performances, with few exceptions, are as good as any full-price rival. It is here, however, in Op. 74 (and in the companion Op. 71), that the Kodalys surpass all the competition. In Op. 20 the Mosaiques lead the field; of Op. 33 there are several fine versions; in Op. 50, the Salomons are strong contenders; in Opp. 54 & 55, the Lindsays are exceptionally fine; in Op. 64 I like the Fetstics Quartet. Even in their outstanding Op. 76 recordings, the Kodalys are not without rivals (e.g. the Tatrai Quartet). If you can afford it buy the entire cycle on Naxos (except Op. 20 - a good performance poorly recorded - and the rather uninspired early quartets of Opp. 1 & 2). Later you can add some of the other insightful interpretations, mentioned above (but get the Mosaiques' Op. 20 now). In Op. 74 the Kodaly are peerless; next to them, the Tatrai Quartet sounds sluggish, and the Salomon Quartet anemic. Listen, for instance, to the spirited but precise Allegro spiritoso first movement of the F Major quartet, or to the 'riding' finale of the G minor. The digital recorded sound is excellent.
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Format: Audio CD
The year is 1793, two years after Mozart's death. Haydn produces one of the absolute masterpieces of the whole history of the string quartets: the "Apponyi Quartets", which include six quartets (opus 71 and op 74, which is this recording). It is no surprise that Mozart dedicated to Haydn a set of six wonderful quarterts: he was recognizing Haydn's primacy on the string quartets genre. Haydn's response was masterly: the "Apponyi" quartets are widely recognized as one of the rôle models for all chamber music composers. Even very different works such as Beethoveen's opus 131, Bartok fifth quartet, and Carter's second quartet will be much better appreciated if one is very familiar with Hadyn's major works. The performance of the Kodaly quartet is hors-pair. Don't let the low price fool you: these recordings would be top recommendations even at triple the Naxos price. Buy them, and have a lifetime of enjoyment.
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Format: Audio CD
The three quartets of Haydn's opus 74 are among his boldest and most rousing. Not even the Esterhazy butlers could have snoozed during their premieres. The Kodaly Quartet gives them a polished ride, a performance that would be a must-buy if they weren't performed even more vividly and with greater bravura by The Lindsays, on a CD also available.

The price for CD is quite an inducement, but wait! This recording and the whole cycle of Haydn's 83 quartets plus The Seven Last Words are included in the Naxos "Complete Haydn String Quartets" box, 25 CDs plus a book of ample notes. Some of the Kodaly performances are the most outstanding in the field, a few a perfunctory, many might be second choice compared to The Lindsays, Quattuor Mosaiques, the Emerson, or the Fitzwilliam quartets, depending on your taste. If you don't incline toward the Big Box, this very economical single CD is worth buying even if you also buy the slightly better and slightly more expensive release by The Lindsays.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These quartets are some of Haydn's best of all of his quartets - and he wrote over 60 of them. The Kodaly Quartet sound up close and personal and you can feel their love of this music.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I am a professional cellist that studied op. 74 years ago in undergraduate school. Now, I am scheduled to preform in a music festival so I bought this to study with my part and score. This recording is decent enough to warrant 4 stars, but I was not moved to tears.
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