Author Topic: Haydn: String Quartets  (Read 23771 times)

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Offline Que

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #120 on: September 21, 2021, 09:55:17 PM »
[...]
My favorite HIP quartet Haydn are probably the anthologies with the Schuppanzigh Q (and Mosaiques opp. 76+77) but I find the Festetics certainly worthwhile and for op.9,17,50 better.

Next to the Festetics my other favourite is the Schuppanzigh Qt, hat tip Gurn.
Perhaps cliché, but comparing their styles as Hungarian vs more mainstream Austro-German gives a fair idea. The Schuppanzigh unfortunately decided on an anthology instead of a complete cycle, and their recordings receive less attention than they deserve. The Mosaiques and the Londoners came first, and the OOP Festetics recordings were largely unknown until the complete set appeared.
I have hopes for a complete LvB cycle by the Schuppanzigh Qt!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 09:57:59 PM by Que »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #121 on: September 21, 2021, 10:29:42 PM »
No, the London Haydn is the latest of all.
Disregarding Collegium Aureum Quartet on LP I think the earliest HIP Haydn quartets were Salomon/Hyperion, Smithson/hm and some others, probably also Festetics/hungaroton.

Festetics had  few recordings already on hungaroton/harmonia mundi (I think op.9 and 64) before their Arcana recordings. I think the problem was that the founder/director of Arcana, Michel Bernstein, died 2006, so some of their recordings were not well distributed for some time (I actually grabbed two or three volumes cheaply around that time, but the apparently were leftovers). But ~2009 they reappeared (I bought another volume then)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Bernstein

Mosaiques was better distributed most of the time (not always, they were also on an earlier label of Bernstein's, Astree, and many of theirs are rare now as well, I think).

The problem with anthologies is also that they tend towards having mostly the same subset of pieces, I didn't get one volume of the Schuppanzigh because I didn't want another "Lark" quartet.

Struck by the sounds before the sun,
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The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #122 on: September 22, 2021, 03:02:10 AM »
Next to the Festetics my other favourite is the Schuppanzigh Qt, hat tip Gurn.

I'll have to give Schuppanzigh's Haydn a try then.  I also notice that they have also recorded Ries' string quartets.  I think I'll queue up one of those albums as well.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #123 on: September 22, 2021, 05:24:06 AM »
I am of mixed feelings about anthologies. Some of my favorite performances are that way, but it's always been so traditional to listen to cycles and ones expectations lead that way. The one downside is, as Jo points out, there are some works that seem to show up in every series. Besides The Lark, Op 9#4 and The Rider are popular. In addition to the Schuppanzigh's, the Smithsons, and especially the Amsterdam Quartet are both quite satisfying.

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Offline hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #124 on: September 22, 2021, 11:55:54 AM »


Festetics had  few recordings already on hungaroton/harmonia mundi (I think op.9 and 64) before their Arcana recordings. I think the problem was that the founder/director of Arcana, Michel Bernstein, died 2006, so some of their recordings were not well distributed for some time (I actually grabbed two or three volumes cheaply around that time, but the apparently were leftovers). But ~2009 they reappeared (I bought another volume then)

Festetics also made an exceptional recording of Op. 51 Seven Last Words of Christ on Harmonia Mundi France. Among the roughly half dozen I've heard it's the most beautiful performance. I neglected this work for too long, the string quartet version is now one of my favorites from Haydn.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #125 on: September 22, 2021, 12:23:52 PM »
I think the 7 LW were introuvable when I got the other (Arcana) Festetics issues, so I went with the Mosaiques in that case and I also have the Cherubini and the Amadeus Q. While it is a fascinating and unique work, it's not even the original version of that piece, and I never quite understood why it seems to be more often recorded than most real Haydn quartets and the original orchestral version.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #126 on: September 22, 2021, 12:51:20 PM »
I think the 7 LW were introuvable when I got the other (Arcana) Festetics issues, so I went with the Mosaiques in that case and I also have the Cherubini and the Amadeus Q. While it is a fascinating and unique work, it's not even the original version of that piece, and I never quite understood why it seems to be more often recorded than most real Haydn quartets and the original orchestral version.

I would rank them as orchestral, string quartet and a very distant third the piano. I never bothered to hear it up until more recently; as you say not the original version, struck me as just a purely monetary commission (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and rarely do I hear string quartet reductions that are that interesting.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #127 on: September 22, 2021, 01:06:08 PM »
I think the 7 LW were introuvable when I got the other (Arcana) Festetics issues, so I went with the Mosaiques in that case and I also have the Cherubini and the Amadeus Q. While it is a fascinating and unique work, it's not even the original version of that piece, and I never quite understood why it seems to be more often recorded than most real Haydn quartets and the original orchestral version.

Well, to be clear, the original version is by far my favorite, I prefer the Savall above all.

The Festetics on HM (Quintana) really is among the finest versions of this 7 part suite for string quartet. I was very pleased to be able to finally find a used copy a couple of years ago. As far as its popularity goes, it is true, it is the most played version of this work. I recall Landon speculating that it was easier to get a string quartet together than a chamber orchestra for private performances, which were really the far larger proportion of performances in those days. In point of fact, Haydn played it in  a quartet while he was in London. I can provide details if anyone wants them.

What I find irritating is that Hoboken created an entire section for "Works on or about the 7 Last Words', then he took up 7 spaces in Hob. III (50-56) putting this work there instead of in Hob XX. What was the point of that, I wonder? 

On the same line, I would love it if some of the more astute people here would take a quick look at this essay and tell me if you have ever run across any proof one way or the other on the premise I present here. It's self-explanatory.

7 Last Words for Keyboard

Just so you know, I don't mind being proved wrong, but just saying 'Landon says so...' isn't going to do it for me. He says so without a shred of documentary evidence, as you will see. But there may be something recent that I missed, especially if it's only in German, as so may things are.

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #128 on: September 22, 2021, 01:14:01 PM »
I would rank them as orchestral, string quartet and a very distant third the piano. I never bothered to hear it up until more recently; as you say not the original version, struck me as just a purely monetary commission (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and rarely do I hear string quartet reductions that are that interesting.

The original of the 7 Last Words was bought and paid for by the monks in Spain, so Haydn couldn't sell it to Artaria for a while, as he wanted to do. But it had been played in Vienna before being sent off, and attracted enough attention that Artaria commissioned Haydn to write a quartet reduction for publication, which he promptly did. So yes, it was a monetary commission, although I would say 'well, that's what they were doing it for!'. So was the keyboard reduction. :)

I personally have enjoyed all 4 versions many times over. The chamber orchestra version is clearly my favorite, but that gives me no reason at all to dislike the others: the music is the music, no matter what it's played on. Although if you do want to come close to disliking it, listen to the keyboard reduction played on organ! :o :o

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #129 on: September 23, 2021, 02:02:53 AM »
As for the piano score, it is not explicit that Haydn did not write it. But to me it also sounds more like as if someone else prepared it and Haydn reviewed the proofs and complimented Artaria who supposedly had organized the arrangement. What I take to be your interpretation that Haydn compliments them *only* on the engraving quality (and not on the quality of the setting for piano), is of course also possible but does not seem to me a more natural reading than the other possibility. I don't think the question who made the piano version can be decided on the basis of these letters.

Anyway, I am still quite surprised that apparenly both in the late 1780s and today a strange, unique and very long piece like the 7 Last Words seems to be one of Haydn's most popular.


Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Brian

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #130 on: September 24, 2021, 10:32:28 AM »
Alpha's Haydn series will soon be recording Vol. 15:
Kammerorchester Basel
Giovanni Antonini, Dirigent
Christian Tetzlaff, Violine

Joseph Haydn:
Sinfonie Nr. 62 in D-Dur
Konzert für Violine und Streicher A-Dur
Pause
Sinfonie Nr. 50 in C-Dur «Der Götterrath»
Sinfonie Nr. 85 in B-Dur «La Reine»

A concert photo in the announcement email shows that the violin and viola players are forced to stand up during the concert presentations of these programs. I hope they all have really good shoes.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #131 on: September 25, 2021, 05:17:04 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 20 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





These are, once again, robust presentations; very up front and uncompromising and consistent with the presentations of opp. 9 & 17 so far in this cycle.

I had a feeling of disquiet thus far, in the face of the reputation of this ensemble in this music. I feel a lack of empathy with the sensitivity of the nature of this music. When I think of early Classical era music I think of charm, poise, grace and refinement. This was not my overriding impression thus far from these presentations. They did strike me as being too heavy handed in their presentation; the music making was, for me, simply too big for this era of music. I am not doubting for one minute the veracity, integrity or the musical credentials of the Festetics Quartet. They are obviously wonderful instrumentalists, but I did wonder about their sensitivity to and interpretation and presentation of this specific music. It has to do with delicacy of touch, interpretation and presentation. It feels to me like this music is being presented as though it is early Romantic music, which, of course, it is not. The presentation style reminds me of the Takacs Quartet. If you like your Haydn string quartets to be performed in an assertive and robust manner then this is definitely the set for you. I much prefer a more genteel and poised approach to this music.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #132 on: September 25, 2021, 05:18:14 AM »
I am coming late to this conversation but I have been very interested in the conversation that has preceded my post above. One of the interesting adjectives that I have picked up on was bucolic. I must be honest, this description of Haydn’s music had never occurred to me. I understand where it is coming from but I will certainly have to contemplate it. There is a dissertation there somewhere; Haydn early string quartets - bucolic or genteel? This questions some of my long held conceptions of this music. Taking the Classical Musical Snobbery out of it, why not?
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #133 on: September 29, 2021, 12:44:43 AM »
I particularly like the Chiaroscuros for Op.20.  They often get overlooked here because of the GMG liking for 'cycles'.  I wouldn't describe them as either genteel or bucolic, but possibly leaning more toward the latter than the former.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #134 on: September 29, 2021, 01:39:23 AM »
I much prefer a more genteel and poised approach to this music.
You are welcome to that of course, but I feel quite strongly that you are mistaking Haydn for Mozart. I never felt they had much in common except for living at the same time.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #135 on: September 29, 2021, 01:58:40 AM »
Of course they are individual differences but Haydn and Mozart are still stylistically close, because of their common cultural and musical background but also because of mutual influence. One might find minor German/Austrian composer closer to one of them than they are to each other but Haydn and Mozart are closer to each other than either to contemporary like Boccherini or a composer a generation older like CPE Bach.
Taking a completely superficial feature: In their mature string quartets neither Haydn or Mozart wrote a quartet with 2 or  3 movements, both of which are common among their contemporaries. Neither did they write concertante quartets etc.

Although I love several of the "rougher" sections in Haydn (like the "bagpipe" trio in symphony 88 or maybe also the stomping trio in op.76/2) I think that some reviews or commentaries have exaggerated the "rustic" flavor of some of his music. The bucolic element is mostly as artificial and "courtly" as the contemporary visual art was, I believe. (Rosen ones writes that Marie Antoinette could be "a la campagne" at the Trianon.)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #136 on: September 29, 2021, 03:31:28 AM »
I'll have to give Schuppanzigh's Haydn a try then. 

BTW I do like what I heard but I might have been ecstatic that it was evidence that my stereo survived the move intact! :laugh:

Offline Que

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #137 on: September 30, 2021, 11:45:06 PM »
You are welcome to that of course, but I feel quite strongly that you are mistaking Haydn for Mozart. I never felt they had much in common except for living at the same time.

I agree. Whatever the musicologal similarities, quite different (musical) personalities.

Offline Spotted Horses

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #138 on: October 01, 2021, 06:40:18 AM »
There is a dissertation there somewhere; Haydn early string quartets - bucolic or genteel? This questions some of my long held conceptions of this music. Taking the Classical Musical Snobbery out of it, why not?

Bucolic or genteel is a dichotomy? I like HIP and PI performance, not because they are "authentic" but because they tend to blow the cobwebs off the ears and allows me to hear things fresh. I think Harnoncourt said somewhere that when he was developing his Mozart style with the Concertgebouw that he was not trying to reproduce an 18th century performance, but that he was trying to make a performance that would speak strongly to modern audiences.

In any case, I enjoy the festetics because the period instruments tend to bring out the texture of the music, and they have a spirited style of performance that I am attracted to.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 06:55:28 AM by Spotted Horses »

Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #139 on: October 02, 2021, 12:35:49 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 33 Nos. 1-6 and Op. 42 [Festetics Quartet]





The Festetics Quartet are playing all of the notes very well but, once again, I am simply not engaged in their performances because of their interpretive and presentational approach to the music. It is just not working for me. I am progressively finding that the listening sessions are fatiguing for me which is definitely not what Haydn’s music should be about.

To be fair, I have enjoyed Op. 42 more than anything else that I have heard thus far in this set. The recorded sound seemed less obtrusive and the music seemed to be played with a lighter touch; perhaps a portent of things to come.
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