This extract from the
Lettres Italiennes sur Haydn
by Giuseppe Carpani, taken up
by Stendhal in his Vie de Haydn, describes somewhat mischievously the String Quartet:

  “A woman of wit and learning said that when she was hearing the Haydn Quartets, she thought she was present at the conversation of four nice persons.

  She found that the first violin looked like a man of much wit, middle-aged, a fine talker, who sustained the conversation of which he had given the subject.

  In the second violin, she recognized a friend of the first one, who sought by all means to make him shine, very seldom thought of himself, and sustained the conversation rather by approving of what the others said than by putting forward ideas

  The cello was a solid man, learned and sententious. He supported the first violin speeches with maxims laconic, but convincing by their truth.

  As to the viola, it was a woman a little talkative, who did not say much yet nevertheless wanted to come in on the conversation. But she acted gracefully and, while she was speaking, the other interlocutors had time to get their breath. However one could see that she had a secrete fondness for the cello that she preferred to the other instruments.”

chamber music