Haydn's six string quartets published as "Op. 64" are perhaps the thorniest ones for performers; others have aspects of profound humor and of formal intelligence and exploration, but perhaps nowhere else are the two so intricately knitted together. Good recordings go back to the 78 rpm era, and several strong ones preceded the release of this one, with superior Potton Hall sound, in 2018. Yet Britain's Doric String Quartet
has achieved a real standout in its traversal of the set. Its playing is precise yet deeply expressive. The group takes some liberties with tempo (sample the first movement of the Quartet in G major, Op 64, No. 4), but these are rigorously directed toward the elucidation of contrapuntal details, a whole host of which you are guaranteed to notice for the first time as you immerse yourself in the set. The world of Haydn
's slow movements and their chromatic adventures and third relationships has never seemed more alluring and mysterious than it does here, and in general there is an X factor to this recording, a sense of approaching the workings of Haydn's mind, that will keep you returning to it. A major triumph for a young string quartet that is breaking out of the pack in the competitive British scene.