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. The Amadeus String Quartet. Photo © Susech Bayat/DG The Amadeus Quartet was formed by three Jewish refugees who came to London in the late 1930s, where they were joined by a young British cellist. They recorded prolifically for Deutsche Grammophon, primarily mainstream German repertoire. This 70-disc box set (recorded between 1951 and 1987, when violist Peter Schidlof died), contains multiple recordings of Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn and Mozart. Three performances of Beethoven’s Op. 59 No 3, from 1959, 1983 and 1987 show the Amadeus’s interpretations and musical standards to have remained impressively consistent. Their
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