Author Topic: Haydn: String Quartets  (Read 27375 times)

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #140 on: October 02, 2021, 12:36:36 AM »
but I feel quite strongly that you are mistaking Haydn for Mozart.

You are wrong.
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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #141 on: October 02, 2021, 03:36:33 AM »
Aligreto if you wish you had PI recordings that you can enjoy more I would suggest Mosaiques and the London Haydn.

If you wish to have excellent all around recordings no matter the instruments used I suggest Auryn or Angeles.

I'm saying this because you don't seem thrilled with your recent purchase.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #142 on: October 02, 2021, 06:19:14 AM »
Aligreto if you wish you had PI recordings that you can enjoy more I would suggest Mosaiques and the London Haydn.

If you wish to have excellent all around recordings no matter the instruments used I suggest Auryn or Angeles.

I'm saying this because you don't seem thrilled with your recent purchase.

Thank you very much for those recommendations. I am, in fact, a very keen PI instruments listener and I do own the Mosaiques in this music. This is, perhaps, somewhat the problem and I am making a direct comparison between them and the Festetics. This is perhaps unfair but it is inevitable. As I have stated already my issue is not with the quality of the playing by the Festetics; they are obviously very good. It is the presentation of the music that I have not taken to thus far. I am keen to see if the later quartets are handled any differently having felt a difference in Op. 42. Just in case people feel that this is an anti-Festetics gripe, it is not. I am merely saying that the approach has not engaged me, and why not.

BTW I have always wondered about the Angeles.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #143 on: October 09, 2021, 03:32:13 AM »
Forever the optimist I have persisted with the cycle and moved on to String Quartets, Op. 50 Nos. 1-6





I have, thus far, up to and including Op. 42, found these performances to be somewhat dry, uninspired and routine in terms of the presentation and interpretation of this music. I have tried to account for the bucolic here also but I did not experience it. Otherwise, the musicianship was technically excellent.

However, with Op. 42 things appeared to change. I found as I listened to Op. 50, Nos. 1 & 2 that this seed change was becoming consistent. The recorded sound had become less intense and obtrusive on some occasions and the musical interpretations and music making certainly appeared more sensitive to the music to my ear in a lot of places. However, I found Op. 50 No. 3, reverting to original type. The final movement of Op.50/3 was an exhilarating performance. Op. 50 No. 4 was very different again, sonically. The acoustic, throughout, sounded very dry and harsh but the performance was sparkling. I am not liking the presentation of Op. 50 No. 5 again for sonic reasons. The playing is undoubtedly excellent as is the pacing but I find the recorded sound to be too harsh, even strident. The music, however, is superlative. Unfortunately, Op. 50 No. 6 fares no better. The sound is consistently harsh with an attempt to compensate for the very dry acoustic with reverberation. Such fixes simply do not work. Listening to Op. 50 was a bit of a mixed bag.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #144 on: October 09, 2021, 04:12:44 AM »
I have heard op.9, 17, 20, 50, 54/55, 64 and 71/74 with the Festetics. I gave away their op.20 in favor of the Mosaiques. My favorite of theirs is probably op.50 and some of op.9, 17 and 55. I was never bothered by the recorded sound that seems quite good to me throughout (but I am only rarely picky about recorded sound). It's been too long that I heard op.71/74 but I used to find some of the more brilliant pieces of opp.54 and 64 (like 54/1 or the "Lark") too earthbound. Generally, I think they are good in slow as well as "earthy", rustic movements.
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)

Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #145 on: October 09, 2021, 05:05:49 AM »
Those are interesting comments and perhaps answer a question of mine about these presentations other than the sound. Your concept of the performances being too earthbound rings true for me. I do not find these presentations to be inspiring; there is no evident spark to illuminate this music for me thus far. But that is just to my humble ear. I was hoping that, as the music evolved in the later works, this style of presentation will suit this later music more appropriately.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #146 on: October 13, 2021, 02:14:32 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 54 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]





Op. 54 was more what I was looking forward to as the music moved along chronologically. The robust playing and the very forward presentation of the recording better suit the more mature music, to my ear. The presentation sounds less bombastic and more invigorating and engaging for me in these works. The music making also sounds more vital. I am still finding the slow movements to be somewhat pedantic and uninspiring however. Once again, the quality of the musicianship is unquestioned.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #147 on: October 16, 2021, 01:06:54 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 55 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]





I have enjoyed these performances as much as those of Op. 54 with the same reservations about the presentation of the slow movements which still feel a bit cumbersome to me. However, I did particularly like the slow movement in Op. 55/3. It was quite engaging and it felt more intense.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 06:33:38 AM by aligreto »
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #148 on: October 23, 2021, 04:46:12 AM »
String Quartets, Op. 64 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





Op. 64 started off very well with good poise and pacing and not being overly assertive in the delivery of No. 1. Op. 64/2 was also very engaging, particularly the slow movement and the Menuet. The music and the ensemble are in full flow in the opening of Op.64/3 and that fluidity continues throughout the work. With  Op. 64/4, I found the performance of the opening movement to be on the heavy handed side but with the rest of the work being well balanced and engaging. I particularly liked Op. 64/5 throughout. Op. 64/6 was not top drawer for me. Without reiterating earlier points discussed this felt a little laboured to my ear with the exception of the final movement, [notably] marked Presto.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #149 on: October 31, 2021, 04:50:42 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 71 Nos. 1-3 [Festetics Quartet]





The Festetics Quartet sounded smoother, softer and more rounded in Op. 71/1. There were very few jagged edges for me in this music making. However the slow movement, Adagio, sounds more like it is leaning towards a Lento to my ear. Otherwise it is well played in a balanced recording. In Op. 71/2 I liked the way that they generally handled the tempi at various points throughout the work. The faster Tempi are bright, energetic and lively. Interestingly, I really like the performance of the slow movement in this version. The recorded sound is well balanced here with the viola and cello not appearing over prominent or harshly recorded. Op. 71/3 is well played, well paced and well recorded even if the cello is a tad prominent, particularly in the Menuet.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #150 on: November 05, 2021, 05:27:38 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 76 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





The big difference for me in the recordings of Op. 76/1,2 is that the tone and presence of both the viola and cello are toned down in a more balanced recording. This, I find, makes a huge difference to the “voice” of the Festetics Quartet, obviously, and for the better as far as I am concerned because it delivers a much more balanced and refined presentation overall. The slow movements are actually on the delicate side in terms of sensitivity. Both the viola and cello became more prominent in the recording of Op. 76/4 but not oppressively so in an overall sparkling performance. Opp. 76/5 & 6 were both a delight from beginning to end.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #151 on: November 16, 2021, 03:56:29 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 77 Nos. 1 & 2 [Festetics Quartet]





The music of Op.77/1 is a model of refinement and the exquisite in Classical era musical writing. The slow movement is particularly noteworthy for its intensity.  The relevant sense of poise is also well delivered here. The music is very finely played here, the music making is superlative and the recorded sound is well balanced in a very well rounded and exciting presentation.
Op.77/2 also has a good sense of poise and refinement along with an elegant drive to the music. I thought that this one was very well played by the Festetics Quartet.
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #152 on: November 16, 2021, 07:02:34 AM »
Aligreto, thanks for your long term review of this box set. I think it shows a few things about great recordings: none are 100% perfect in their execution, but if the music is great, things like occasional execution glitches or production problems, or differences in expectations don't cause the ultimate success or failure of the realization. In Classical times, the onus was on the listener to  suss out what the composer was saying. Even today, the work isn't done for you, you get back the value that you invest, with interest.  :)

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #153 on: November 16, 2021, 07:32:53 AM »
Aligreto, thanks for your long term review of this box set. I think it shows a few things about great recordings: none are 100% perfect in their execution, but if the music is great, things like occasional execution glitches or production problems, or differences in expectations don't cause the ultimate success or failure of the realization. In Classical times, the onus was on the listener to  suss out what the composer was saying. Even today, the work isn't done for you, you get back the value that you invest, with interest.  :)

🤠😎

Cheers Gurn. I still have one more work to go in that set, the unfinished Op. 103, and I will respond in more detail once I have that completed and my overall thoughts collated.  :)
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #154 on: November 18, 2021, 08:25:04 AM »
I hope Festetics are able to get back to recording, especially Schubert which Arcana seemed to hint at me in an email that they would be recording more. Though this was several years before the pandemic.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #155 on: November 18, 2021, 09:37:40 AM »
I hope Festetics are able to get back to recording, especially Schubert which Arcana seemed to hint at me in an email that they would be recording more. Though this was several years before the pandemic.

I'd love to see them do more Schubert! I have 2 discs they did, one with the Quintet, the other has Rosamunde. Strangely, that one is marked. "Volume 4", but there is no sign there ever existed a volume 1, 2 or 3....  :-\

They have also teamed up with PBS to do some great work, a bonanza for me, favorites all around!

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #156 on: November 18, 2021, 10:42:08 AM »
I hope Festetics are able to get back to recording, especially Schubert which Arcana seemed to hint at me in an email that they would be recording more. Though this was several years before the pandemic.

That would be amazing!  :)

Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #157 on: November 19, 2021, 02:35:25 AM »
Haydn - String Quartet, Op. 103 [Festetics Quartet]





This is a two movement, a fragment [comprising some thirteen minutes of music] of an unfinished work apparently composed at the same time as Op. 77, which were meant to be part of a six-quartet set. This may well have been the genesis of a quartet in that set. However, due to ill health, Haydn ultimately allowed the fragment to be published by itself, as opus 103.
The music and the musical language are both profound and are not the voice of a frail, old man yielding to death. Rather, these two movements are infused with the essence of Life. The music may not always be jubilant but it is always vital. The construction of the first movement, in particular, in terms of the quality of the music, harmonies and the counterpoint is simply magnificent. The Menuet is not far behind; it has quite a wonderfully edgy feel to it. One simply craves for more and wonders what if....? This music is well played and presented here.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #158 on: November 19, 2021, 02:44:49 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets [Festetics Quartet]





Listening to this set has been a long journey for me. I was aware that the set had a big reputation but I did not like it when I first began to listen to it. However, I thought that things might improve for me as the music moved along chronologically. And so they did and this, coupled with various comments about the nature of this music and its performance, has given me much to contemplate. I, therefore, decided to take my time and to carefully consider what, and why, I did not like certain aspects of the set.

As fine as both the playing and the quality of the recorded sound is concerned I am glad that this was not my introduction to the Haydn String Quartets particularly up to and including Op. 50 and beyond, in some cases. The tone of the Festetics Quartet, up to the late quartets, for me has been consistently presented as being too robust for the music up to that point and, again, beyond, in some cases. Others, of course will, and do, love this set and good for them.

No complete set or cycle of any music is likely to satisfy completely. The frequently forward presentation of the music in these recordings, particularly that of the viola and cello parts, has been a continually significant issue for me up to the later quartets where things did eventually change, to my ear.

Just to be clear about my objectivity here, I have consistently listened to the same set using the same equipment with the same settings in the same room.

Despite my reservations I am glad that I have heard the performances as the discussion around them has prompted me to think more about them and the music. This is always a good thing. 


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Offline grocklin

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #159 on: November 21, 2021, 07:58:50 AM »
My go-to set is the Auryn, but in case anyone is interested in the Festetics, the complete set (19 cds) is $9 at 320kbps on us.7digital.com.

I've also been enjoying the Buchberger set on Spotify, which is $31.50 at 7digital (320kbps) or 36$ (FLAC) at Qobuz.