Author Topic: Haydn: String Quartets  (Read 24259 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #100 on: September 19, 2021, 09:02:54 AM »
Like Gurn, I hear a congenial, conversational mood. Which does not mean it isn't expressive and articulated.

As far as I remember I’ve only listened to their op 50. My biggest beef is that they are not vivacious and alert and charming, they are the opposite of those things in fact.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2021, 09:05:17 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #101 on: September 19, 2021, 09:12:35 AM »
I thought there was the hypothesis that these quartets (opp. 9+17) might have been written for a quartet formed by musicians at the Esterhazy court, led by the virtuoso Tomasini, therefore the often quite demanding writing for the 1st violin (compared to the rest). So it would not have been private but court music like the symphonies of that time.

I'd describe the Festetics as "rustic"and often quite relaxed, sometimes also a bit serious. Elegant or charming they certainly are not.
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 Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #102 on: September 19, 2021, 01:23:30 PM »
I thought there was the hypothesis that these quartets (opp. 9+17) might have been written for a quartet formed by musicians at the Esterhazy court, led by the virtuoso Tomasini, therefore the often quite demanding writing for the 1st violin (compared to the rest). So it would not have been private but court music like the symphonies of that time.

I'd describe the Festetics as "rustic"and often quite relaxed, sometimes also a bit serious. Elegant or charming they certainly are not.

No. not court music. In all the years Haydn worked for Esterházy, there is not a single mention in the extensive archives of string quartets (by any of the names they used for them a the time) being requested or played by or for the Prince. At the time of Opus 9-20 (1768-72), for example, official chamber music was 100% baryton music, mainly trios. But the string quartets were being used as 'workshop' pieces by Haydn as he was developing new rhythmic and harmonic schemes. The likelihood that they were being played by members of the orchestra is no great stretch, they were the only musicians around, and people like Luigi Tomasini and Joseph Weigl on cello were also Haydn's best friends, so their presence is both unavoidable and in fact, nearly mandatory. He was also prohibited by contract from selling them, so that possibility is off the table too. 

I agree with your assessment of the Festetics, in fact this is the factor which originally won me over. I would further point out that you should listen to their late Mozart if you haven't; it doesn't sound like their early Haydn.

Like Gurn, I hear a congenial, conversational mood. Which does not mean it isn't expressive and articulated.
As far as I remember I’ve only listened to their op 50. My biggest beef is that they are not vivacious and alert and charming, they are the opposite of those things in fact.

In the 3 early opuses they do, I think the big thing is an avoidance of sounding like a recital, which IMO is a disaster in Haydn and the primary reason I have rejected so many other recordings of all of the quartets over the years. You feel like you can hear the musicians thinking "OMG, it's Haydn, I can't screw up". Given the quality of the musicians (most likely) playing the originals, it's probably true that there were very few screwups, but if one of them did, I would wager it was cause for no more than a few chuckles all around, none more than from Haydn.


is a very fine look at the quartet in its native context. There are now a few places online where you can find it at no cost, even! Worth your while.  :)

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #103 on: September 19, 2021, 01:28:25 PM »
No. not court music. In all the years Haydn worked for Esterházy, there is not a single mention in the extensive archives of string quartets (by any of the names they used for them a the time) being requested or played by or for the Prince. At the time of Opus 9-20 (1768-72), for example, official chamber music was 100% baryton music, mainly trios. But the string quartets were being used as 'workshop' pieces by Haydn as he was developing new rhythmic and harmonic schemes. The likelihood that they were being played by members of the orchestra is no great stretch, they were the only musicians around, and people like Luigi Tomasini and Joseph Weigl on cello were also Haydn's best friends, so their presence is both unavoidable and in fact, nearly mandatory. He was also prohibited by contract from selling them, so that possibility is off the table too. 


Very interesting and informative comments.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #104 on: September 19, 2021, 01:33:03 PM »
Whenever I think of Festetics' cycle it's one of "perfect balance", I do hear the qualities that Gurn and Que speak of as well. I mainly use that description of balance as the Mosaiques which comprise the other recordings that I really like can be a bit too fleeting.

Anyway for something really different from Festetics and Mosaiques one of my favorite discoveries was Schneider Quartet: https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,30189.40.html

Stylistically more like Vegh or Budapest rather than modern.

DavidW

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #105 on: September 20, 2021, 04:33:55 AM »
Mosaiques and Festetics don't sound similar in their approach to me at all.  Mosaiques sounds much more refined and elegant.

Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #106 on: September 20, 2021, 06:35:39 AM »
The Mosaiques are more refined but like the Festetics are also often rather slow (in fast movements, both are often rather fleet in slow movements, I guess this is also a HIP thing) and overlap in having a certain warm "earthy" sound. (The trios with Cohen and 1/2 quatuor Mosaiques are even slower and warmer).
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 Spotted Horses

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #107 on: September 20, 2021, 07:25:36 AM »
My exposure to the Mosaiques has given the impression that their style is mild and precious, compared to the more outgoing, energetic Festetics. With regard to Haydn, I can't recall a recording of a Haydn string quartet that I found unacceptable. Nowadays I tend to alternate between the Festetetics and the Aeolian, which are not that dissimilar despite being HIP/PI and non-HIP/PI.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #108 on: September 20, 2021, 07:44:14 AM »
Mosaiques and Festetics don't sound similar in their approach to me at all.  Mosaiques sounds much more refined and elegant.
Indeed. But the Festetics sounds jovial, rural and bucolic, qualities I associate with Haydn, and make me feel that this is the way Haydn would have performed and enjoyed them. I'm very glad both approaches are available.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #109 on: September 20, 2021, 08:00:49 AM »
Indeed. But the Festetics sounds jovial, rural and bucolic, qualities I associate with Haydn, and make me feel that this is the way Haydn would have performed and enjoyed them. I'm very glad both approaches are available.

Those are all good words, I wish I had used some of them. :) As is Jo's 'rustic'. To say I prefer that style in Haydn because I believe it is more appropriate for his music doesn't mean I don't like the Mosaiques, I just think the perfection (as I think of it) which they espouse is not usually what I want to hear, at least in the early works.  This was a mistake which I think the LHQ made when they began their cycle. Their Op. 9 sounded like four people in starched tuxedos on stage playing the recital of their lives, thankfully they learned to lighten up down the road!

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Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #110 on: September 20, 2021, 08:17:17 AM »
My quartet collection was already too saturated when the LHQ came around, 10 years earlier I'd probably have snapped them. Then they apparently had for op.9+17 the idea to play the "moderato" first movements really slowly whereas Festetics understood them more as leisurely (allegro) moderato, i.e. a bit relaxed but moving along and some other ensembles played them even faster, hardly different from normal Allegros, so I could not be bothered. Neither have I heard the older recordings with the Salomon Q on Hyperion.
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.
I never heard the Festetics in op.33,42,51,76,77, got rid of their op.20 in favor of Mosaiques and find op.54,55,64 a bit mixed (partly because I wish for more brilliance and elegance in some of op.54 and 64), don't remember much about op.71/74. (I collected them piecemeal ca. 2000-2009)
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)

DavidW

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #111 on: September 20, 2021, 10:25:55 AM »
Indeed. But the Festetics sounds jovial, rural and bucolic, qualities I associate with Haydn, and make me feel that this is the way Haydn would have performed and enjoyed them. I'm very glad both approaches are available.

Yes that is exactly how I hear them!

DavidW

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #112 on: September 20, 2021, 10:27:34 AM »
My quartet collection was already too saturated when the LHQ came around, 10 years earlier I'd probably have snapped them. Then they apparently had for op.9+17 the idea to play the "moderato" first movements really slowly whereas Festetics understood them more as leisurely (allegro) moderato, i.e. a bit relaxed but moving along and some other ensembles played them even faster, hardly different from normal Allegros, so I could not be bothered. Neither have I heard the older recordings with the Salomon Q on Hyperion.
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.
I never heard the Festetics in op.33,42,51,76,77, got rid of their op.20 in favor of Mosaiques and find op.54,55,64 a bit mixed (partly because I wish for more brilliance and elegance in some of op.54 and 64), don't remember much about op.71/74. (I collected them piecemeal ca. 2000-2009)

No London Haydn Quartet?

Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #113 on: September 20, 2021, 10:51:39 AM »
As I said in the first sentence you quoted, I was already pretty much finished with collecting Haydn quartets when the LHQ started appearing and I didn't much like the samples of their first two or so volumes, so I never bothered with them.
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)

DavidW

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #114 on: September 20, 2021, 01:22:21 PM »
Okay, I didn't know what you were talking about since you used an acronym.

Offline hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #115 on: September 20, 2021, 02:33:36 PM »
Mosaiques and Festetics don't sound similar in their approach to me at all.  Mosaiques sounds much more refined and elegant.

Re-read my post, I never said they are similar in approach at all. They are both HIP and Schneider are not, that is where the similarities end and why I categorized them as people are often looking for either informed style or not.

I think Mosaiques' more "refined" sound work quite well in Haydn, it works far better here than in their late Beethoven quartets (still, I would love to have some period group complete a cycle). The cycle comes across as "Haydn light" in terms of phrasing, which I have no problem with. As I say in my post I still regard the cycle quite highly and among larger cycles, even if incomplete my ranking in terms of interpretation would be in descending order Festetics, Auryn, Mosaiques and Schneider. The last two roughly equal and more dependent on mood or opus number.

I might look to explore Leipzig's cycle but like Jo498 I feel like I've got an excellent survey of the various styles. Now if Petersen Quartett released more volumes I'd snap up all of them.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 02:42:58 PM by hvbias »

Offline Daverz

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #116 on: September 20, 2021, 06:05:28 PM »
Okay, I didn't know what you were talking about since you used an acronym.

LHQ = London Haydn Quartet

https://londonhaydnquartet.co.uk/

Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #117 on: September 20, 2021, 10:47:42 PM »
I kept the acronym from Gurn's post above. Although it looks a bit like Large Hadron Quollider. ;)

The Petersen Q. has not been in existence for several years (I think their last recordings are from around 2007, Franck and Shostakovich?, before Weigle left for the Artemis, and they had gone through some personnel changes on Vl. 2 and 'cello before that).
There was some kind of re-launch with the original Primaria, Ulrike Petersen, who had given them their name but is only on a few of their earliest recordings aroun 1990 and then left for family reasons, I think, but this apparently did not last very long and no recordings were made, I think. So there is only the op.1 that is not even counted among the quartets anymore in the new edition (it puts op.1+2 separate as "early divertimenti").
As the Leipzig SQ are expensive single issues, I am in no hurry.

The last Haydn recording I really wanted to get in proper form was the Juilliard's op.54 I finally got in their box with other 1960s recordings.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 11:57:19 PM by Jo498 »
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 hvbias

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #118 on: September 21, 2021, 11:47:29 AM »
I kept the acronym from Gurn's post above. Although it looks a bit like Large Hadron Quollider. ;)

The Petersen Q. has not been in existence for several years (I think their last recordings are from around 2007, Franck and Shostakovich?, before Weigle left for the Artemis, and they had gone through some personnel changes on Vl. 2 and 'cello before that).
There was some kind of re-launch with the original Primaria, Ulrike Petersen, who had given them their name but is only on a few of their earliest recordings aroun 1990 and then left for family reasons, I think, but this apparently did not last very long and no recordings were made, I think. So there is only the op.1 that is not even counted among the quartets anymore in the new edition (it puts op.1+2 separate as "early divertimenti").
As the Leipzig SQ are expensive single issues, I am in no hurry.

The last Haydn recording I really wanted to get in proper form was the Juilliard's op.54 I finally got in their box with other 1960s recordings.

I assumed Leipzig would have one of those usual budget MDG box sets but it appears like they aren't, consider me not in a hurry either then :) After sampling Auryn then promptly shelling out a not insignificant amount of money for all the volumes I don't think I could do that again. Petersen are quite special in Op. 1.

Online Jo498

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Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #119 on: September 21, 2021, 12:41:29 PM »
Yes, they get as much out of op.1 as possible. op.1/3 with the "violin duet/echo" slow first movement is a piece I quite like. Except for op.1+2 and 42 I have at least three recordings of every Haydn quartet, of many five or more; almost 100 CDs altogether. It's enough for now.
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)