Top positive review
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This lovely set moved the earth for me
on 22 January 2015
Quatuor Mosaïcs play on period instruments, or to use splendid French parlance, "Sur les instruments d'epoque". In their hands it sounds wonderfully natural and perfect for the music. The collection begins with the first great quartets Haydn produced (Opus 20). It takes in more selected complete sets up to his late Op. 77. Op. 76 contains the quartet with the famous "Emperor's Hymn" movement in its sweet innocent form exalting Austria's Emperor Joseph, before the North Germans renamed it and nabbed it as their National Anthem - it was that good. Another treasurable inclusion is the less often heard Op. 51, known by English speakers under the title "The last seven words of our saviour on the cross". This differs greatly from Haydn's usual four-movement layout. This was due to an exacting (to put it mildly) request from the Canon at Cadiz Cathedral for the by then widely famous composer to provide meditative non-vocal music backdrop with just a sparse number of players and consisting ENTIRELY of slow movements to conjure the mood appropriate to each saying. This struck a chord in Haydn and he met the challenge head-on superbly. In addition he provided dramatic "bookends", an Introduction and a short, sharp end-piece depicting the earthquake aftermath, making nine movements in total. I found this a unique experience, peculiarly suited to contemplative listening on good audio equipment and maybe even via this giving some idea of how it must have deeply affected the Spanish congregation for which it was intended. I urge anyone, no matter of what persuasion in religion or the non-religious, or even those with different music interests, to sit quietly and absorb this beautiful work. It may move you as it did for me. The recorded sound throughout this gem of a collection of reissues, at an attractive price, is first rate. Recommended for all enthusiasts of Haydn's 'chamber' works at their most influential and visionary.