Over the past 13 years the London Haydn Quartet have been surveying Haydn’s complete string quartets for Hyperion in beautifully produced sets, bound by handsome covers featuring 18th-century oil paintings of London. Each has been miracle of period performance on gut strings led by Catherine Manson, with keen attention to detail, even down to which edition they play from.

London Haydn Quartet

Such an approach could be dry and academic in other hands, but Manson and her colleagues, with their mastery of intonation, tempo, dynamic and sheer expressive delight in these works, avoid that trap. “No set of 18th-century string quartets is so wide-ranging in expression, or so heedless of the structural norms of the time,” writes Richard Wigmore in the liner notes for the Op. 76 double disc.
Composed in Vienna in 1796, a...