Founded forty years
ago, the eminent Lindsays sadly disbanded
in July 2005. It has been announced
that each of the four players are to
go their own separate ways. This is
sad news for chamber music lovers but
the Lindsays have left behind a legacy
of many wonderful recordings. The quartet’s
management have stated that, "having
devoted the greater part of their professional
lives to the Quartet, the members of
the Lindsays now wish to explore other
avenues and take on new musical challenges.
Each member intends to continue a career
in performing and teaching."
Enthusiastic and often
animated leader Peter Cropper will continue
performing as a soloist and chamber
musician. Cropper’s plans include complete
cycles and recordings of all the Beethoven
Violin Sonatas with Martin Roscoe,
with whom he has also formed a piano
trio with cellist Murray Welsh.
In my opinion there
is nothing better in music than the
finest of Haydn’s String Quartets. They
are not recorded nearly as often as
their esteemed reputation deserves;
ensembles tend to concentrate on the
chamber works of Mozart, Beethoven and
The first complete
recording of the Haydn quartets, that
I am aware of, was from the Aeolian
Quartet on Decca between 1972 and 1976.
The highly rated complete survey from
the Angeles String Quartet was recorded
between 1994 and 1999 for Philips and
won a prestigious Grammy award for ‘Best
Chamber Music Performance’ in 2001.
The other main contender is the celebrated
digital version of the complete quartets
from the Kodály. These were recorded
for Naxos over a ten year period. Although
not a complete survey the Lindsays have
recorded many of Haydn’s quartets for
ASV and have demonstrated a special
affinity for these scores.
Here we have Haydn’s
three Op. 74 quartets. The Lindsays
frequently release live recordings of
their recitals but this one was set
down in the studio; in this case Holy
Trinity Church, Wentworth.
Haydn composed the
Opp. 71 and 74 sets especially for performance
in Johann Peter Salomon’s Hanover Square
Rooms in London. The scores are boldly
and spaciously conceived with powerful,
often orchestral sonorities and virtuoso
writing for all the instruments especially
the first violin. Haydn uses flamboyant
contrasts of texture, register and dynamics.
The faster movements tend to be urgent
and strenuously argued, reflecting the
proximity of the ’London’ symphonies.
In both the fast and slow movements
Haydn favoured clearly defined, popular
sounding melodies that could easily
be assimilated by his Hanover Square
The C major work commences
with a lyrical and moody outpouring
in the lengthy opening movement. Serious
and purposeful playing in this allegro
has the music soaring and swooping in
temperament, like a bird in a thermal.
For all the music’s easy charm this
is closely wrought and highly sophisticated.
The Lindsays in the second movement
offer expressive playing and in the
forthright menuetto a lighter
mood is expertly caught. In the concluding
movement, with its combination of catchy
tunes and dazzling instrumental virtuosity,
we hear the Lindsays at their best.
Fresh and vivacious music-making.
The F major quartet
opens with an allegro that here
displays the natural spontaneity and
enthusiasm of the players. This is an
accomplished performance with purity
and much finesse in the andante although
in the third movement menuetto the
playing seems rather disjointed and
unsatisfying. The Lindsays are heard
at their best in the finale with
highly charged and spirited playing.
In the ‘Rider’
the driving and powerful opening movement
allegro is given a rhythmic and
airy reading. The wonderfully expressive
slow movement is interpreted with a
certain majesty and in the edgy menuetto
the Lindsays offer spirited and
dazzling playing. In the finale the
galloping rhythms give the nickname
of the ‘Rider’ to the quartet.
The performance is characterised by
sure and alert playing of the highest
The accusation is sometimes
heard that the Lindsays occasionally
sacrificed a highly polished performance
in favour of their indubitable enthusiasm
and as a consequence episodes of rough
playing can occur. This does not apply
on this ASV Gold release; their playing
is highly accomplished and deeply musical.
I certainly would not wish to be without
these excellent accounts from an ensemble
that has consistently demonstrated a
real affinity with the Haydn quartets,
often to much critical acclaim.
However my particular
favourite recording of the three Op.
74 works is the consistently joyous
and spontaneous performances from the
sterling players of the Kodály
Quartet on Naxos 8.550396.
For those wishing to
explore a selection of the Haydn quartets
the refined and poetic performances
from Quatuor Mosaïques on Naïve
are required listening. Mosaïques
are certainly the greatest contemporary
quartet performing on authentic instruments
and are celebrated the world over for
their ‘period-style’ interpretations.
On the domestic UK recital scene the
Chilingirian under the leadership of
co-founder Levon Chilingirian constantly
impress with their thrilling interpretations
and commanding live performances of
the Haydn quartets.
A most satisfying sound
quality together with really fine booklet
notes. The Lindsays are heard at their
best with this superb Haydn release.