The String Quartets, Op. 76 are among the most renowned of Joseph Haydn's sets of quartets, and carry the stamp of their maker: No other set of eighteenth-century string quartets is so diverse, or so unconcerned with the norms of the time. &&&In the words of Haydn’s friend and contemporary Charles Burney ‘they are full of invention, fire, good taste and new effects’ – a striking description considering that Haydn had reached the respectable age of 64 when he composed the set. On a previous disc, the Chiaroscuro Quartet has recorded the first half of Op. 76, including No. 3, the celebrated ‘Emperor’ quartet. The release has won great acclaim, with the critic in Gramophone writing: ‘The Chiaroscuros' account of the remaining three Op 76 quartets can't come soon enough.’ Well, here it is – a disc which like its predecessor spans a wealth of moods and atmospheres: from the magical sunrise of the opening of 76/4 to the manic minuet and boisterous finale of 76/6, a movement without a tune worth the name but utterly engrossing even so.
The Chiaroscuro Quartet was formed in 2005 by the violinists Alina Ibragimova (Russia) and Pablo Hernán Benedí (Spain), the Swedish violist Emilie Hörnlund and cellist Claire Thirion from France. Performing music of the Classical period on gut strings this highly international ensemble has a unique sound – described in The Observer as ‘a shock to the ears of the best kind’.