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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #121
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    Haydn op 20/3 in G minor it is then. Hob 33:3 Quartet No. 26 (Haydn numbering is a nightmare!)

    My interest was piqued in this music years ago when I heard The Salomon Quartet. Up to then I’d thought of Haydn as an avuncular sort of composer, the famous “papa Haydn” stereotype. But The Salomon find tremendous expressiveness in the quartet, which in their hands is by turns tough and dark and tender and capricious and graceful and indeed free to the point of sounding improvised. This is what I like. More recently, I found one which is maybe even more interesting - the London Haydn Quartet. They have all the expressiveness of The Salomon but they make the music sound so bold in its transitions and in its irregular rhythms and its asymmetries, it’s almost disorienting. This is also what I like.

    Just this past couple of weeks I’ve listened to the quartet probably once a day at least, and I’ve tried to take into account some different interpretations. And you can see how many musicians, even some informed musicians, have approached it with the idea of Haydn as a light and witty composer, agreeable and fundamentally shallow. There are some early and uninformed Haydn performers which satisfy my personal demands from music (I have a soft spot for the searingly intense Tatrai for example, vibrato and all), but not many.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-19-2020 at 21:18.

  2. #122
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    ^^ Interesting. It's funny - and you may be right about his reputation - but I never thought of Haydn as avuncular and thought Papa Haydn was a term of respect from other composers (like calling him "the source"). To me he was a composer who used his indentured (is that the right word?) position to experiment continuously with different possibilities. And I am not really sure that a benign or even sparkling approach to his music results in shallowness, does it?

    My first hearing in this week of hearings was from the Mosaiques Quartet. It is true that this is much "easier" listening that the works so far for this group. But I am not sure that equates with shallowness (not that I am reading you as saying quite that). I do remember liking the Salomons' Haydn so I look forward to that as well.
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Mar-20-2020 at 12:24.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Are we ending the Schubert week prematurely, typically, we switch on Sunday. Just a good idea to have it picked out ahead of time.

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    ^ We seem to have. Only a couple of us were listening the the Schubert and the general view (of this small group) was negative. I have now listened to it a lot and feel I both enjoy and understand it much more - so mission accomplished as far as I am concerned.

  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    ^^ Interesting. It's funny - and you may be right about his reputation - but I never thought of Haydn as avuncular and thought Papa Haydn was a term of respect from other composers (like calling him "the source"). To me he was a composer who used his indentured (is that the right word?) position to experiment continuously with different possibilities. And I am not really sure that a benign or even sparkling approach to his music results in shallowness, does it?

    My first hearing in this week of hearings was from the Mosaiques Quartet. It is true that this is much "easier" listening that the works so far for this group. But I am not sure that equates with shallowness (not that I am reading you as saying quite that). I do remember liking the Salomons' Haydn so I look forward to that as well.
    There’s quite a lot of research on the Haydn reception history, and the role of papa. It’s interesting - people were keen to make Haydn appear just a jolly tunesmith, unlike the profound Beethoven, so it’s all part of the Beethoven reception. I’ve got a book about this somewhere.

    I bet a similar story vis-à-vis Beethoven could be told about the Schubert reception history.

    I’m sorry to say that I think that the Mosaïques are utterly terrible in this quartet. Listening to the Haydn again last night made me want to revisit Beethoven’s Serioso quartet - but you’d never see the connection from the drivel that Mosaïques come out with.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-20-2020 at 13:35.

  6. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Are we ending the Schubert week prematurely, typically, we switch on Sunday. Just a good idea to have it picked out ahead of time.
    Before abandoning the Schubert completely, I’d like to ask if it’s the first quartet to make such prominent use of tremolo, and whether it’s the last too.

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    Senior Member sbmonty's Avatar
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    I've listened to the two recordings I own of Schubert's No. 15. The Emersons and the Pražák Quartet. I enjoyed the first two movements significantly more than the following two. I quite liked the tremolo effect, but this seems to contentious. Overall, I've enjoyed the experience, but my biggest problem with it, is it's sheer length. That and the final two movements don't seem to capture my interest.

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  9. #128
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    The last movement sounds great with the Leipziger Quartet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    The last movement sounds great with the Leipziger Quartet!
    I'll stream that this morning. Thank you for the recommendation.
    Looking forward to Haydn next!

  11. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    There’s quite a lot of research on the Haydn reception history, and the role of papa. It’s interesting - people were keen to make Haydn appear just a jolly tunesmith, unlike the profound Beethoven, so it’s all part of the Beethoven reception. I’ve got a book about this somewhere.

    I bet a similar story vis-à-vis Beethoven could be told about the Schubert reception history.
    Interesting. It seems like my ignorance protected me from misguidance!

    I didn't get your Beethoven - Schubert point. Probably my ignorance again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I’m sorry to say that I think that the Mosaïques are utterly terrible in this quartet. Listening to the Haydn again last night made me want to revisit Beethoven’s Serioso quartet - but you’d never see the connection from the drivel that Mosaïques come out with.
    I quite enjoyed the Mosaïques' recording but it isn't a work I know well let alone have strong opinions of how it should go. Their Haydn was very well received by critics (for what that's worth), I think. I must confess that I sometimes find the Mosaïques a little dreary but didn't find it with this one. I've got the Salomon Quartet as well so I'll be able to do a comparison before I go out on the web looking for others.

  12. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post

    I didn't get your Beethoven - Schubert point. Probably my ignorance again.
    .

    People also thought that Schubert was basically nothing more than a melody writer, someone with a gift for miniatures. That's one reason why the piano sonatas were mostly ignored or abridged by pianists until very recently. I don't know where this reputation came from, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that those who wanted to promote Beethoven as the major C19 towering figure (e.g. the Beethoven's estate . . .) were involved.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-20-2020 at 14:30.

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  14. #132
    Senior Member sbmonty's Avatar
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    The versions I currently have are the Quatuor Mosaiques and the Kodály Quartet. I'll compare then listen to other recommendations as they come in.

  15. #133
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    Unfortunately I can't see any interesting performances on youtube, apart from Tatrai, which is certainly worth hearing.

  16. #134
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Default Weekly Quartet, Week 5: Haydn - Op. 20, No. 3

    OK then, on to Haydn! The father of the modern string quartet (do you think that title is accurate or were there any other obscure composers writing quartets before him that we need to know about....?) has given me countless hours of pleasure through this music. Not only his quartets, but also his numerous concerti, piano trios, piano sonatas, and later symphonies are my immediate go-to music when I need something to lift my spirits and enhance my day. I certainly would not call anything he wrote "lightweight," perhaps nonchalant instead. Wikipedia has an overarching article on the Op. 20 "Sun" quartets (which it claims solidified Haydn's reputation as the father of the genre), including a nice little analysis of the Op. 20/3 work. William Drabkin claims, "This quartet is among the more enigmatic pieces in the repertory. Indeed, the work is in so many respects unusual that it seems to in many places defy interpretation." Wikipedia also says that Haydn seems to be "wagging his tongue at his contemporaries" by writing strange, unbalanced phrasing structures that seemed very odd for the Classical Era. I, for one, look very much forward to diving into this one, and I hope we all have a slightly easier, but no less productive week of quartet-ing!

    As for performances, there are a few on my radar; even though it appears that this opus has earned fewer recordings than the later opi such as Op. 76. The Lindsays are an ensemble that I always enjoy, and will maybe go for first. The Hagen, Kodaly, and Vegh also look like good bets. Mandryka mentions the Tatrai, but I can't find their recordings of Op. 20 on the streaming service I use. Shall have to check them out on YouTube. Happy listening! I would also ask that all those who are participating in this activity write at least something on their thoughts, just so we can get a "headcount" of all those who are actively involved in this.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-20-2020 at 15:04.

  17. #135
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Hmm, too bad. I was just starting to appreciate the Schubert. I’ll have to give this Haydn quartet a listen after work. I think I have only one recording, the Kodály. I’d like to get the London Haydn Qt. too.

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