St. Lawrence String Quartet: Haydn, Op. 20, by Jim Edwards
My current favorite recording is a three-LP set released last year by the St. Lawrence String Quartet containing all six quartets in Haydn’s Op. 20. The sound is outstanding and the interpretations spellbinding. I’m especially partial to quartets #2 and #4. Number 2 is breathtaking, starting with a cello solo, followed by a mini-symphony capriccio, which leads to a menuet with a bagpipe drone, and finally ends with a fugue in four voices.
The packaging is deluxe. The enclosing box has four cut-outs, which reveal different views of the faces of the quartet members on each of the three record sleeves. This is all accompanied by a 25-page booklet with interesting Q and A’s with the quartet members and an informative essay on the importance of the Op. 20 quartets to Handel and to the development of string quartets in general. The LPs are well-produced, with no surface noise. They easily eclipse, both in interpretation and sound, my previously preferred SACD recording of these works by the Pellegrini Quartet.
The 3-LP set is available at http://www.slsq.com where you can also buy a 2-CD version or freely download the 96/24 digital album or individual movements.
If you love string quartets and audiophile sound, you owe yourself a listen to this wonderful music.