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There is no finer version available of Haydn's Op. 74 quartets, and certainly none better recorded. Playing on this level silences criticism, so I'll just touch on some of the highlights. First, there's the huge but always intelligently used dynamic range, most evident in those mysterious chords between the major sections of the C major quartet's first movement. Or listen to how rich the folk-music cadence theme in the finale sounds--rustic and bold but without a trace of crudeness. Then there's the amazingly well-contrasted finale of the F major quartet, with its spooky Hungarian refrain, and the glorious Largo assai of the "Rider" quartet (which never loses its sense of flow), and...well, you get the picture. Just go out there and buy this disc. It's amazing.
David Hurwitz

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