★★★★★ British quartet displays all the characters of a fine vintage wine.

Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House
October 4

Having battled the Grand Final crowds and negotiated Sydney’s newly transformed public transport system on a blistering hot Sunday afternoon, what better way to cool down than with some Haydn quartets?

And not your jovial elegant pieces dashed off as stocking fillers for the more weighty stuff on the programme but two of his finest and most substantial quartets performed by an ensemble which knows its Haydn inside out.

In fact the London Haydn Quartet – violinists Catherine Manson and Michael Gurevich, violist James Boyd and cellist Jonathan Manson, all of whom have flourishing careers outside the group – was formed in 2001 purely with the intention of exploring this composer’s 70-odd quartets and performing them as Haydn would have heard them, using baroque bows and gut strings.

Gradually the works of Haydn’s pupil Mozart crept in to their repertoire and, when they started uncovering the manifest delights of the late quartets, that other pupil Beethoven demanded to be included.

Hence the programme for this latest in the Utzon series – one of the Prussian quartets, the Op. 50 No 2, the sixth from...