Author Topic: Haydn: String Quartets  (Read 23340 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5981
  • Posts: who's counting?
  • Currently Listening to:
    probably something somebody somewhere is snickering at...wait, Schoenberg! Definitely Schoenberg! (And, let's see, does he have a disciple or two...)...
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #80 on: December 11, 2014, 10:14:21 PM »
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.

Since I'm such a fan of their op.64 set I'll pick a couple of examples from there.

Op.64/1. This is an odd duck of a quartet. Each of the first three movements starts off thematically and rhythmically almost identical. So close in identity in fact that the breaks between each movement could be confused as simple false endings...something of a joke perpetrated on the inattentive, trickery to throw off the senses. 

But, no, they're real endings.

And so it goes, on into the third movement. The third movement begins perfectly in keeping with what has come before. No hiccups, no interruptions, no indication of straying from the beaten path.

That's the impression. And honestly by this point you'd be forgive for being lulled to right to sleep.

Except...right at about midpoint of the movement (3:27) a ripple in the musical fabric intrudes on the slumber. Just a ripple, though - no overthrow or usurping of the prevailing convention. Just a blip of an excursion by the first violin for a couple of measures. Then it's gone. Convention returns and the slumber resumes.

Then...at 4:02...there's another abrupt two or three measure announcement by...the cello...mirroring the first violin's earlier excursion. Once again the calm is broken by what appears to be a thematic anomaly. Totally irrational of course - considering the surroundings - but, wouldn't you know, not the least bit out of place! Then, calm again.   

Next...at 4:25...the violin slips in again and rustles the calm. What gives? Then, calm again. 4:54...the cello returns with...something resembling vigor but not quite. Finally, relative calm right up until the end of the movement...and it's over. 

Did all this "blipping the musical line" have a purpose? Not at first glance, since nothing seems to have come of it.

Enter the finale and suddenly the lights get turned on in this piece! Uncontrollable vigor, clipped phrases - where earlier such a thing would have been unthinkable - zany rhythms.......yes, wanton unpredictability becomes the norm. Like night and day this movement is from the rest of the piece.

Or is it?

Did we not get a glimpse of this movement starting at that 3:27 mark of the preceding movement? At the point where the first violin first peeked through the oppressive calm? Indeed we did.

With this revelation the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place with this work. It would seem, in the preceding third movement, that the first violin played antagonist against the calm for a single purpose: to give notice that something was about to follow. Not to give away any secrets, only to herald...something as yet unknown.

With the cello later adding its voice to the first violin in that movement, a doubling of antagonists could only mean one thing: there's something afoot. 

It's a perfectly played setup to foreshadow the unpredictability - and overall impressiveness - of that next and final movement. It's a stroke of genius by Haydn, perfectly in keeping with his penchant for surprises.

What I wonder though is just how many quartet ensembles encountering/performing this piece would be able to pick out such über subtleties in what appears to be barren, repetitive, "conventional" musical writing?

The way I see it, not many. A quartet ensemble without a natural inclination for probing for the subtleties of a score might not pay much heed at all to what is essentially heightened "micro-management" playing out in the scope of only a few bars.

And the further the ensemble is from the "micromanagement" type it follows then the further removed they are from reacting to such subtleties. The "adrenaline-type" ensembles, well, they'd probably fly right over such detail (no doubt without worry :)).

I suppose it could be argued that micromanagement of this sort isn't essential for the understanding of a piece such as this. I'd argue otherwise. To be deprived of the "build up", the "foreshadowing" of the last part of the third movement is to miss out entirely on a very important facet of this work: "empty" preamble (the first 3/4ths of the work) can and does have a purpose!! I feel I would be much the poorer without this insight into the mindset of Herr Haydn. 

Anyway, this is just my impression. Please no flaming. :)

It's late so I'll get to my second example soon.



 
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 09:23:29 AM by Dancing Divertimentian »
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

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 17212
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #81 on: December 12, 2014, 11:09:37 AM »
My impression is that the moment at 3'27 in iii is no less clear in Caspar da Salo than with Mosaiques. Neither do I think that the contrast between iii and i, ii and iv is more pronounced with Mosaiques.

Why do you like op 64 so much?  Apart from op 64/6 and the ubiquitous Lark I've not given it much attention.

The Lark was the source of inspiration for Finnissy's second quartet you know.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 11:17:10 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Sammy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1658
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Boris Tchaikovsky
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #82 on: December 12, 2014, 01:40:25 PM »
Why do you like op 64 so much?  Apart from op 64/6 and the ubiquitous Lark I've not given it much attention.

That surprises me.  I think all of Haydn's string quartets are wonderful and each deserves about equal attention.  Just one man's opinion. :)

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5981
  • Posts: who's counting?
  • Currently Listening to:
    probably something somebody somewhere is snickering at...wait, Schoenberg! Definitely Schoenberg! (And, let's see, does he have a disciple or two...)...
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #83 on: December 12, 2014, 05:07:06 PM »
My impression is that the moment at 3'27 in iii is no less clear in Caspar da Salo than with Mosaiques. Neither do I think that the contrast between iii and i, ii and iv is more pronounced with Mosaiques.

Well, you asked. It's not my job to make you happy.

Quote
Why do you like op 64 so much?  Apart from op 64/6 and the ubiquitous Lark I've not given it much attention.

Why shouldn't I like them?

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

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 17212
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #84 on: December 12, 2014, 10:03:29 PM »
Well, you asked. It's not my job to make you happy.


Oh but you do!

The question was whether the Mosaiques reveal new pathways etc. Derr.

That surprises me.  I think all of Haydn's string quartets are wonderful and each deserves about equal attention.  Just one man's opinion. :)

I'm less enthusiastic about Haydn than that.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 10:07:54 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Jo498

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5467
  • Location: Germany
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #85 on: December 13, 2014, 03:39:57 AM »
op.64,1 is an extremely witty piece. As Divertimentian pointed out, the first three movements start with very similar motives, there are hardly even contrast in tempo. The first movement has a fascination reprise/coda with a long section like a second development into the "flat" (A flat major, I think) region that achieves almost romantic sonorities. And the finale is just a fun ride.

I'd say one would underestimate some of Haydn's achievements if one rated op.1 as highly as op.9 and op.9 as highly as op.33. Although even the early divertimenti have some very enjoyable music and certainly op.9 and 17 are worthy of attention (to me this dozen is far more interesting than e.g. most early Mozart and Schubert).

op.64 is for me a rather "classical", relaxed opus. Not as densely concentrated as op.33 and 50 or as experimental and adventurous as op.54/55. But I like it a lot, e.g. the wonderful slow movement of the b minor quartet and the infectious first movement of the B flat major.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 03:44:52 AM 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 71 dB

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9469
  • I'm not insensitive. I'm an INTJ/P.
    • Soundcloud
  • Location: Helsinki, Finland
  • Currently Listening to:
    I am revisiting my CD collection.
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #86 on: May 25, 2017, 01:42:04 AM »
I have never been a Haydn fanatic and never much explored the string quartets. Now I revisited what I have and to my surprise, I actually prefer Op. 64 by Kodaly to Op. 76 by Mosaïques. Kodaly sounds wonderfully warm compared to Mosaïques. You may say Kodaly is relaxed and slow and what not but so what? As if that can't be enjoyable?  0:)
« Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 01:48:23 AM by 71 dB »
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Offline Gurn Blanston

  • Haydn: that genius of vulgar music who induces an inordinate thirst for beer - Mily Balakirev (1860)
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 32209
  • Support your local Haydn Society
    • Gurn's Haydn Blog
  • Location: Texas, where else?
  • Currently Listening to:
    Haydn, I reckon.
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #87 on: May 25, 2017, 03:38:11 AM »
I have never been a Haydn fanatic and never much explored the string quartets. Now I revisited what I have and to my surprise, I actually prefer Op. 64 by Kodaly to Op. 76 by Mosaïques. Kodaly sounds wonderfully warm compared to Mosaïques. You may say Kodaly is relaxed and slow and what not but so what? As if that can't be enjoyable?  0:)

I started out with Kodaly's set and still enjoy them today. The whole point of having a different voice is that there is no such thing as a right voice. So if you enjoy their sound and style, then this is the right recording for you. Most importantly, Opus 64 is the peak of pure Viennese quartets. Haydn's style changed after that, but in 1789-90 he was pure Vienna Classical. Enjoy them!  :)

8)
Help support GMG by purchasing from Amazon using this link

Visit my Haydn blog: HaydnSeek

Follow me on Twitter @GurnBlanston106

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 60871
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #88 on: May 25, 2017, 03:44:15 AM »
I have never been a Haydn fanatic [...]

That could change, though  8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline mc ukrneal

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9138
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #89 on: May 25, 2017, 03:47:51 AM »
I started out with Kodaly's set and still enjoy them today. The whole point of having a different voice is that there is no such thing as a right voice. So if you enjoy their sound and style, then this is the right recording for you. Most importantly, Opus 64 is the peak of pure Viennese quartets. Haydn's style changed after that, but in 1789-90 he was pure Vienna Classical. Enjoy them!  :)

8)
I've come to the conclusion, for group chamber pieces, that style and sound are the determinant for me. Of course, the playing has to be up to a certain level, but most of the top quartets (to stay relevant to this topic) meet that requirement, which includes most of the recorded repertoire as well. I don't think I can say the same about other genres within classical music (at least not as consistently as with chamber). And I'm not sure how applicable it is to other composers, but with Haydn it seems to be the absolute key moment.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline Gurn Blanston

  • Haydn: that genius of vulgar music who induces an inordinate thirst for beer - Mily Balakirev (1860)
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 32209
  • Support your local Haydn Society
    • Gurn's Haydn Blog
  • Location: Texas, where else?
  • Currently Listening to:
    Haydn, I reckon.
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #90 on: May 25, 2017, 05:35:29 AM »
I've come to the conclusion, for group chamber pieces, that style and sound are the determinant for me. Of course, the playing has to be up to a certain level, but most of the top quartets (to stay relevant to this topic) meet that requirement, which includes most of the recorded repertoire as well. I don't think I can say the same about other genres within classical music (at least not as consistently as with chamber). And I'm not sure how applicable it is to other composers, but with Haydn it seems to be the absolute key moment.

Me too. That's why my preference is for the Festetics. who are loved by some and deplored by thousands. The sound and style are just what I want. In a very competitive recordings market, I can't see any company publishing a quartet group that can't play the music, so yes, as you say, most top groups meet that criterion.  :)

8)
Help support GMG by purchasing from Amazon using this link

Visit my Haydn blog: HaydnSeek

Follow me on Twitter @GurnBlanston106

Offline George

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6387
  • Hey Bert!
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #91 on: August 24, 2017, 08:16:03 AM »
Has anyone compared the sound on the old Pro Arte Testament CDs with the new Warner set?

"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline aligreto

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 26265
  • Location: Ireland
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #92 on: September 04, 2021, 06:25:59 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 9 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





I have been aware of this set and of its reputation for quite some time. Many people have spoken highly of it. I have only recently acquired the set and Op. 9 is my recent introduction into it.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 60871
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #93 on: September 04, 2021, 06:38:33 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 9 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





I have been aware of this set and of its reputation for quite some time. Many people have spoken highly of it. I have only recently acquired the set and Op. 9 is my recent introduction into it.


Plunge right in!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline George

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6387
  • Hey Bert!
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #94 on: September 04, 2021, 07:30:58 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 9 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





I have been aware of this set and of its reputation for quite some time. Many people have spoken highly of it. I have only recently acquired the set and Op. 9 is my recent introduction into it.

Congrats!!

I found a used copy myself a few years back and was so excited. Listening to it, I was even more excited. It's a tremendous set!
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline aligreto

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 26265
  • Location: Ireland
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #95 on: September 18, 2021, 03:49:02 AM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 17 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





My initial impression of this cycle thus far based on both Opp. 9 & 17 is that the presentations are rather on the robust side; not quite overtly forceful but certainly on the more assertive side. The music, however, is always engaging and the recorded sound is superlative if a bit on the forward side. Op. 17 No. 6 is a particularly engaging work.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Gurn Blanston

  • Haydn: that genius of vulgar music who induces an inordinate thirst for beer - Mily Balakirev (1860)
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 32209
  • Support your local Haydn Society
    • Gurn's Haydn Blog
  • Location: Texas, where else?
  • Currently Listening to:
    Haydn, I reckon.
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #96 on: September 18, 2021, 04:17:45 PM »
Haydn - String Quartets, Op. 17 Nos. 1-6 [Festetics Quartet]





My initial impression of this cycle thus far based on both Opp. 9 & 17 is that the presentations are rather on the robust side; not quite overtly forceful but certainly on the more assertive side. The music, however, is always engaging and the recorded sound is superlative if a bit on the forward side. Op. 17 No. 6 is a particularly engaging work.

That seems very fair to me. Another aspect which I really enjoy is the element of playfulness present in the earlier opera. It has been asserted that since all the early ones were not written for a purpose than Haydn's own use, he played them with his friends on their off-time. I get this feeling from the Festetics rather more than any other I've heard. Curious if you get that feeling too.  🧐

🤠😎
Help support GMG by purchasing from Amazon using this link

Visit my Haydn blog: HaydnSeek

Follow me on Twitter @GurnBlanston106

Offline aligreto

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 26265
  • Location: Ireland
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #97 on: September 19, 2021, 12:58:55 AM »
That seems very fair to me. Another aspect which I really enjoy is the element of playfulness present in the earlier opera. It has been asserted that since all the early ones were not written for a purpose than Haydn's own use, he played them with his friends on their off-time. I get this feeling from the Festetics rather more than any other I've heard. Curious if you get that feeling too.  🧐

🤠😎

I did not notice that aspect, to be honest.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

DavidW

  • Guest
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #98 on: September 19, 2021, 04:53:33 AM »
I think I agree with the description of Festetics being assertive.  Nothing about their recordings sound playful or casual IMO.

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 19503
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Re: Haydn: String Quartets
« Reply #99 on: September 19, 2021, 07:21:11 AM »
I think I agree with the description of Festetics being assertive.  Nothing about their recordings sound playful or casual IMO.

Like Gurn, I hear a congenial, conversational mood. Which does not mean it isn't expressive and articulated.