Commercially Available CDs

Joseph Haydn: String Quartets Op. 9, No. 4; Op. 17. No. 3; Op. 17, No. 5

The Smithson String Quartet (Jaap Schröder & Marilyn McDonald, violins; Judson Griffin, viola; Kenneth Slowik, cello)

The Smithson String Quartet was, during its fourteen-year residency (1982-1996) as part of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, the pre-eminent American-based quartet performing the great classical and early romantic repertoire on original instruments. The Quartet took its name from James Smithson, whose 1829 bequest “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men” made possible the creation of the Smithsonian Institution—the United States National Museum—in 1846.The Smithson Quartet’s recorded legacy includes, in addition to numerous “live broadcast” sessions archived in the vaults of Swiss, French, German, and American public radio networks, CD performances of the six quartets Mozart dedicated to Haydn in 1785, numerous other Mozart chamber works, a good cross-section of Haydn quartets, and the six Op. 18 quartets of Beethoven. Several of these recordings presented these works on period instruments for the first time, and many won “record of the month” or “record of the year” awards. The present disk contains performances never before released.

The Smithson String Quartet at the time of this recording (1986)
The Smithson String Quartet at the time of this recording (1986)

Listen to the Finale from the Quartet in G Major, Op. 17, No. 5

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The Haydn performances by the Smithson String Quartet are powerful. If the listener has never heard a string quartet composed of “authentic” instruments he might be surprised at the biting clarity these instruments provide, but when all is said and done, the success of a performance depends on the musical and intellectual insights of the performers. The Smithson Quartet plays with the understanding, clarity, and strength necessary to reveal Haydn’s unrivalled mastery of the genre.

— High Performance Review
On this album: 

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

[1]-[4] Quartet in D Minor, Op. 9, No. 4
[5]–[8] Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 17, No. 3
[9]–[12] Quartet in G Major, Op. 17, No. 5