The sturdy opening of the G major quartet, No 5, with its flicking ‘Scotch snap’ rhythms, points the way to the more egalitarian textures of the famous Op 20 set by quickly involving all four instruments in the motivic interplay. Then, near the end of the exposition, Haydn gives Tomasini his head in a bravura passage of double-stopping. To offset the expansive development, ending with a quasi-improvisatory passage for solo first violin, the recapitulation drastically compresses the events of the exposition. The tangy minuet, full of metrically disruptive canonic imitations, encloses an inscrutable G minor trio that leads back without a break into the minuet. G minor is also the key of the Adagio, where the first violin impersonates an imploring opera seria heroine in alternating arioso and recitative, the latter uncannily foreshadowing the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Haydn exploits the catchy theme of the finale, given a gentle rhythmic ‘kick’ by the viola, with impish wit, right through to the conspiratorial pianissimo ending.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009