Maxwell Quartet - Haydn: String Quartets Op. 74 - Folk Music from Scotland - The Scotsman

For their recent Scotsman Sessions film, the Maxwell Quartet offered up a chirpy Scots traditional jig and reel, arranged for string quartet, as a sideways teaser to their newly released album of Haydn’s three Op 74 quartets. The resultant album is a tantalising mix of both styles. Haydn never travelled to Scotland – these quartets, like the Op 71 set previously recorded by the ensemble, were written following the composer’s first London visit – but he did arrange Burns’ songs for the Edinburgh publisher George Thomson, and there’s a tangible compatibility between his snappy Viennese classicism and the engaging charm of Nathaniel Gow’s classically-conceived Coilsfield House or the rustic verve of the more upbeat dances included. The Haydn performances are a paragon of stylistic finesse, the Maxwell’s crisp precision complemented by moments of aching tenderness. They get to the heart and soul of Haydn’s paradoxical affections. The quirky Scots stuff is the icing on the cake. 

The Scotsman
01 January 2021