Any special ones out there? Bootlegs, out of complete op 50 sets, that sort of thing.
This must rank as Haydn’s boldest quartet, or one of them. May be the boldest 18th century quartet there is. It seems totally sui generis.
It's a very good piece but I don't think it is particularly bold, original or extravagant. I'd put op.20,2+3 (passionate Sturm and Drang), op.76, 5+6 (both with very free and unconventional first movements and great slow movements) and also op.54,2 (with a strange gypsy slow movement and a slow-fast-slow finale, another one of kind movement) and 55,2 (somewhat similar to 50/4 in its minor-major contrast throughout) ahead in this regard.
The most original thing about the f# minor is maybe the fugal finale which is not as "academic" as e.g. in op.20/5 but it's not a great favorite of mine. The variations (minor-major) are great but Haydn has many good similar movements. The first movement is in its somewhat obsessive monothematicism (the second subject is basically a major variant of the first) outdone buy the "fifth" op.76,2.
Cannot point out any special recordings. I used to like the Amati/divox (which I bought as two expensive discs many years ago but it was offered as a twofer later on) a lot for all of op.50. But i's been a long time I listened to them or did any comparing.