If you want to know why recordings by the Amadeus String Quartet were a mainstay of the chamber repertoire for decades, sample their Haydn from the mid-1970s. Here is playing of ideal balance, expressing Haydn’s innate geniality in every bar. That is not to say virtuosity is underrepresented: hear the combination of ease and precision in the Presto finale of Op. 64 No 2. It is swift but joyous, completely lacking any relentless quality. There are no interpretive points to be made; no attention-seeking plasticity of tempo or phrasing; no underlined nods to period practice: this is not the music of an era but of a beloved individual.

Amadeus Quartet,...

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