Author Topic: Haydn: String Quartets  (Read 27204 times)

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Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #60 on: December 06, 2014, 08:09:25 PM »
I'm sorry, Gurn, I'm not following this. What beef do you have with Harold C. Schonberg (no umlaut)?

What's wrong with Haydn (or anybody) being described as an equable type? And being described thusly what does this have to do with the 19th c.?

Also, Schonberg first published his book in 1970, so this would seem to fall outside of your critical zone. So why the hammer?

  +1.  I don't question Gurn's Hayn cred, but I was scratching my head over that post as well.
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #61 on: December 06, 2014, 08:17:38 PM »
I'm sorry, Gurn, I'm not following this. What beef do you have with Harold C. Schonberg (no umlaut)?

What's wrong with Haydn (or anybody) being described as an equable type? And being described thusly what does this have to do with the 19th c.?

Also, Schonberg first published his book in 1970, so this would seem to fall outside of your critical zone. So why the hammer?

Sorry to you and Harold; I was distracted and misread the original post.

It was a commonplace of the 19th century to describe Haydn as a sort of genial bumbler as a way to discredit him. It is an interesting subject which always pisses me off.

Sorry, Harold. :)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #62 on: December 07, 2014, 01:24:15 AM »
The earliest Haydn biographies (Griesinger, Dies) make Haydn sound like a very well balanced kind of guy, modest, funny, kind. This is quite a contrast to the image of Beethoven touted by his image makers. I believe that the Haydn stereotype has worked to devalue his music.
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Offline Que

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #63 on: December 07, 2014, 03:41:44 AM »
Sorry to you and Harold; I was distracted and misread the original post.

It was a commonplace of the 19th century to describe Haydn as a sort of genial bumbler as a way to discredit him. It is an interesting subject which always pisses me off.

Sorry, Harold. :)

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I still enjoyed your little rant... :D

Q

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #64 on: December 07, 2014, 06:14:51 AM »
The earliest Haydn biographies (Griesinger, Dies) make Haydn sound like a very well balanced kind of guy, modest, funny, kind. This is quite a contrast to the image of Beethoven touted by his image makers. I believe that the Haydn stereotype has worked to devalue his music.

Absolutely correct. Even the term (which I never use) 'Papa Haydn' was turned from being a gesture of respect from his friends and students (such as Mozart who used it reverently) to one of belittlement. Much better to be a revolutionary god than a harmless old fogey, yes? ::)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #65 on: December 07, 2014, 06:15:24 AM »
I still enjoyed your little rant... :D

Q

:D  Me too.

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Offline Wakefield

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #66 on: December 07, 2014, 06:25:51 AM »
The earliest Haydn biographies (Griesinger, Dies) make Haydn sound like a very well balanced kind of guy, modest, funny, kind. This is quite a contrast to the image of Beethoven touted by his image makers. I believe that the Haydn stereotype has worked to devalue his music.

To be honest, I don't see any drama on this description. On the contrary, I would love to be that kind of person. Obviously, when you use the word "stereotype" you're suggesting a false image; but actually, I can testify in front of any court, this kind of people exist. I have seen them, not every day, but I know some of them... and Haydn is an extraordinarily apt candidate to fit into this description. 

Bad humour is extraordinarily overrated as a sign of genius. :)
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #67 on: December 07, 2014, 06:43:23 AM »
To be honest, I don't see any drama on this description. On the contrary, I would love to be that kind of person. Obviously, when you use the word "stereotype" you're suggesting a false image; but actually, I can testify in front of any court, this kind of people exist. I have seen them, not every day, but I know some of them... and Haydn is an extraordinarily apt candidate to fit into this description. 

Bad humour is extraordinarily overrated as a sign of genius. :)

Well he's not around any more, Haydn.

We know that there's all sorts of smoke and mirrors that musicians can get up to to make what they're playing sound more full of tensions, more full of complex emotions, more affectively contrasted, more turbulent etc. And we know that there's a straight way of playing Haydn where the musicians don't do this and the result is pretty level headed and well-balanced, pretty upbeat and consoling -- The Beaux Arts Trio would be a good example. As opposed to Trio 415.  I could think of examples from the quartets I'm sure -- Hagen vs Mosaiques maybe.

The reason the Beaux Arts Trio tradition of Haydn performance has been so prevalent is due, I suspect, at least in part, to the papa image presented by his early biographers -- an image encouraged in the Beethoven reception history because it makes Beethoven sound a more original, more visionary, greater, better poet. While Haydn just wrote some diverting, entertaining tunes and investigated some new forms and that sort of technical stuff. Haydn becomes only slightly more important to poetry and art than Dvorak.

By the way, if you hadn't already guessed, I like to hear the more expressive way. That's why I say the performance tradition has worked against Haydn, making him seem a shallower and more spritually irrelevant and anodyne artist than Beethoven and even Mozart (in the last 10 quartets, for example.)  But you know,  à chacun ses mauvais goûts.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 06:51:00 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #68 on: December 07, 2014, 09:15:48 AM »
Which one is on spotify?
In rec.music.classical.recordings there was consensus that Pristine was better than Testament was better than the dubious CDs from "strings" or whatever grey label. Pristine has two choices of quality (mp3 and FLAC) and one several complete movements online free as "teasers".

The transfers on Enterprise, the sound's perfectly listenable. I'm listening to their op 50/6 now, The Frog. A peerless performance, you could not get further away from papa.

Haydn épate les bourgeois.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 09:29:24 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #69 on: December 07, 2014, 08:03:03 PM »
To be honest, I don't see any drama on this description. On the contrary, I would love to be that kind of person. Obviously, when you use the word "stereotype" you're suggesting a false image; but actually, I can testify in front of any court, this kind of people exist. I have seen them, not every day, but I know some of them... and Haydn is an extraordinarily apt candidate to fit into this description. 

Bad humour is extraordinarily overrated as a sign of genius. :)

+1. Well said. :)


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #70 on: December 08, 2014, 02:00:00 AM »
Whatever the reasons for traditional images or distorted pictures of Haydn and his music, do you really find that most or a lot of interpretations of the string quartets follow such a "prettified" or harmless funny uncle view of Haydn's music? While I can agree that there are a few that do not realize the full potential I cannot see that e.g. the Mosaiques are prettifying the music.
And I seem to remember that for me the downside of the Festetics was rather seriousness, sometimes combined with unpleasant sound and lack of brillance/lightness in movements that obviously seem to demand the latter. E.g. I found their op.54/1 which has some of the most brilliant and "outgoing" outer movements rather lackluster while they are far more successful in the "darker" op.54/2.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #71 on: December 08, 2014, 08:23:42 AM »
Whatever the reasons for traditional images or distorted pictures of Haydn and his music, do you really find that most or a lot of interpretations of the string quartets follow such a "prettified" or harmless funny uncle view of Haydn's music? While I can agree that there are a few that do not realize the full potential I cannot see that e.g. the Mosaiques are prettifying the music.
And I seem to remember that for me the downside of the Festetics was rather seriousness, sometimes combined with unpleasant sound and lack of brillance/lightness in movements that obviously seem to demand the latter. E.g. I found their op.54/1 which has some of the most brilliant and "outgoing" outer movements rather lackluster while they are far more successful in the "darker" op.54/2.

Not pretty, but courtly, genteel. Festetics probably don't do this though, I agree.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #72 on: December 08, 2014, 09:34:07 AM »
Not pretty, but courtly, genteel.

I fail to see how this is a hindrance to Haydn appreciation. What exactly is the argument, here?

If Haydn's performances aren't unbuttoned enough for someone that's one thing, but to say the music is being harpooned in a broader sense by "genteelness", well, that's a whole other kettle of fish.

Even so, unless a listener isn't even trying there are plenty of performances on record that don't fit into the "genteel" mould. Of the six groups I have in the quartets only the Kodaly might be considered on the "genteel" side, and even then I've seen them praised on this board by Gurn himself for their insight and high quality.

As far as I can tell the prevalence of "genteel" (in the sense that it's detrimental) quartet recordings is low. What stands out to me is the high quality of Haydn performances these days.     

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #73 on: December 08, 2014, 09:39:55 AM »
I fail to see how this is a hindrance to Haydn appreciation. What exactly is the argument, here?

If Haydn's performances aren't unbuttoned enough for someone that's one thing, but to say the music is being harpooned in a broader sense by "genteelness", well, that's a whole other kettle of fish.

Even so, unless a listener isn't even trying there are plenty of performances on record that don't fit into the "genteel" mould. Of the six groups I have in the quartets only the Kodaly might be considered on the "genteel" side, and even then I've seen them praised on this board by Gurn himself for their insight and high quality.

As far as I can tell the prevalence of "genteel" (in the sense that it's detrimental) quartet recordings is low. What stands out to me is the high quality of Haydn performances these days.     

What about Mosaiques? Genteel in the sense of refined, polished, elegant. That sort of thing.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 09:43:02 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #74 on: December 08, 2014, 11:24:00 AM »
I just want to point  out a set of quartets that i've started to explore and which I think is rather my cup of tea: The Eybler Quartet in op 33. I'm just posting this to see if anyone else has dipped into the set, to see if anyone else likes what they do.

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #75 on: December 08, 2014, 10:36:28 PM »
What about Mosaiques? Genteel in the sense of refined, polished, elegant. That sort of thing.

I think they have polish of course but it's not an end in itself. I find the QM more interested in beating new pathways through the music than anything else. They conjure up more surprises in this music than any quartet I know. That's the mark of great music-making for me.

It's like being told a fanciful story by someone who has a mellifluous voice and who can word-paint like a Picasso versus having the same fanciful story belted out by a raging Mike Tyson. Each approach might have its partisans but I'll take the former any day. 
 

« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 10:56:37 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #76 on: December 10, 2014, 10:07:14 AM »
I picked up Vol 1 of the Testament transfers of the Pro Arte. I think the sound quality variable, at its best it is quite truthful, it's not a problem for me ever - I can always hear what they're doing.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2014, 10:52:26 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #77 on: December 10, 2014, 10:41:27 AM »
I think they have polish of course but it's not an end in itself. I find the QM more interested in beating new pathways through the music than anything else. They conjure up more surprises in this music than any quartet I know. That's the mark of great music-making for me.

What do you mean by 'surprises' and 'new pathways'?
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #78 on: December 10, 2014, 10:46:21 PM »
What do you mean by 'surprises' and 'new pathways'?

I can't really tell if you're looking for something in-depth or just a quickie description. So to spare everyone I'll just go quickie... :)

Musicians - in this case performers - come in all shapes and sizes. No secret. My preference is for performers who are more exploratory in their interpretations, who dig into the layers of the music and emphasize the details and quirks of the respective scores.

This is in contrast to performers who take a more aggressive approach and ratchet up the adrenaline. This approach has it fans obviously but I find it can actually be anti-climactic in the long run as too many highs dilute the overall tension. I prefer a good lead-in to the climaxes.

And the best lead-ins I know come from performers who know how to decorate the surroundings with all sorts of glitter/zaniness/contrasts/etc... But finding these elements isn't always a priority for some performers. Either that or they don't have the ability to actually place them (subjective).

Decorating like this is great but it wouldn't mean a thing without structure. Everything needs a place. Finding a creative foundation with which to build on is key. What that foundation is, and what type of decoration to use, is up to the performer(s).

And from here we get an interpretation...full of surprises...full of new pathways...to reach its ultimate goal. 

Dunno if this makes sense...it's late...off to bed...

 
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #79 on: December 11, 2014, 08:28:48 AM »
I can't really tell if you're looking for something in-depth or just a quickie description. So to spare everyone I'll just go quickie... :)

Musicians - in this case performers - come in all shapes and sizes. No secret. My preference is for performers who are more exploratory in their interpretations, who dig into the layers of the music and emphasize the details and quirks of the respective scores.

This is in contrast to performers who take a more aggressive approach and ratchet up the adrenaline. This approach has it fans obviously but I find it can actually be anti-climactic in the long run as too many highs dilute the overall tension. I prefer a good lead-in to the climaxes.

And the best lead-ins I know come from performers who know how to decorate the surroundings with all sorts of glitter/zaniness/contrasts/etc... But finding these elements isn't always a priority for some performers. Either that or they don't have the ability to actually place them (subjective).

Decorating like this is great but it wouldn't mean a thing without structure. Everything needs a place. Finding a creative foundation with which to build on is key. What that foundation is, and what type of decoration to use, is up to the performer(s).

And from here we get an interpretation...full of surprises...full of new pathways...to reach its ultimate goal. 

Dunno if this makes sense...it's late...off to bed...

I would certainly appreciate an example or two of the Mosaiques doing this. Not the "good lead in" bit. I mean the surprises and pathways.
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