Haydn String Quartets

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Haydn String Quartets

At the moment I can't think of anything more sublime in the field of chamber music than Mozart's output; the string quintets is surely the summit (K593!!!), closely followed by the Piano Trios, the String Quartets, and the 2 Piano Quartets. However, I am preparing to delve into Haydn's output. I already have the String Trios (why aren't they as popular as his symphonies?) with the Beaux Arts Trio and have enjoyed them for years.

What are the recommended recordings of the Haydn String Quartets -the ones that'll make you appreciate these works at the first purchase?

Also, is anybody familiar with the output of Haydn's Scottish songs, done by the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt? I've become a great admirer since listening to their Mozart piano trios. Are these songs worth acquiring? I usually believe that these masters didn't write bad music, only that there are bad performances about.

 

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Haydn's String Quartets constitute the true essence of the genre. Despite the heights of the Late String Quartets by Beethoven or the superb inventiveness of Mozart's "Haydn" String Quartets, the huge output of Joseph Haydn's String Quartets is unrivalled. At least from the amazing Op. 20 and onwards, all the following ones are true masterpieces of the highest order, refinement, wit and musicianship.

I can't easily recommend any complete set. However, I strongly recommend the virtual complete recordings of Praga Digitals with the Kocian, Parkanyi and Prazak Quartets, in wonderful SACD sound (the latest marvellous achievement is the Prazak's recording of the Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross: a must for any Classical Music collector).

The Hagen, the Emerson, the Amsterdam String Quartets (and the Quartetto Italiano along with the Amadeus Quartet from the older ones) have also recorded separate works, in brilliant recordings too.

The Piano (and not the String) Trios are the other great pillar of Haydn's great Opus. They are extremely beautiful, full of ingenuity and wit works, containing the most brilliant music for Piano (or Pianoforte) along with the Piano Concertos by Mozart in the 18th century. If they are not that famous (or popular) as his Symphonies, blame it to their pure and "simple" instrumentation (some people like it..."big" and "large").

The Scottish Songs are minor reworking by Haydn of popular songs. They are not great music, but they cannot be but good and entertaining pieces of a great Master's pen and mind.The complete recording with the Haydn Trio of Eisenstadt is quite satisfactory.

Parla

 

RE: Haydn String Quartets

It's really sad (to be polite), HMV, such an important for Classical Music topic to be completely neglected, abandoned and lost in...

Pity!

I sincerely hope you have already explored the vast Haydn's Opus in this exquisite genre.

Parla

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Thanks Parla.

I'm used to being ignored. I started a thread about Mozart's Haydn Quartets some time ago - to me some of the most intriguing music ever written with the add-on of a magnificent story as to how they were conceived (surely the best present ever given among friends). It only attracted a few followers, your goodself included, but it opened my ears to the String Quintets - so no complaints. The Prazak are indeed magnificent (they played Mozart locally recently, happy days!) but to me it's the Talich's first few bars of K593 that I can't get out of my head.

I have some Haydn on order - so many thanks.

I am not entirely convinced with regards to your advocacy of the Seven Last Words, however. Yes, it works really well for me in the choir version (Bernius) but I get lost in the other arrangements - the movements acquire a bit of sameness to me. I have the Vegh recording on order as well. He has managed to clarify matters for me in the past.

 

 

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Try to get the newly released "Seven Last Words" with the Prazak on Praga. It's a magnificent performance on all counts

For the Piano Version, there are two great performances on Fortepiano only: Brautigam on Bis and Tuma on Praga. Give  a shot on one of them. It's a revelation too.

For the orchestral version, which is the original actually, I prefer Saval or Bruggen, but I guess Vegh should be a safe bet as well.

Parla

RE: Haydn String Quartets

All my listening is exclusively vinyl LP so any views are limited to this medium.It does seem much easier to find satisfactory performances of the Haydn quartets then the Mozart.
I have a complete set of the Haydn quartets by the Tatrai Quartet on Hungaroton,which I am perfectly happy with.I have and heard other recordings which are also very fine and give much pleasure.Building a collection of Haydn quartets I would think not overly difficult.
Mozart on the other hand is the complete opposite.It seems infinitely more difficult for even esteemed groups to get under the skin of the Mozart quartets,this especially applies to the quartets dedicated to Haydn. Obviously subjective but the one group of players that plays Mozart for Mozart and not themselves is the Barchet Quartet.
I am not particularly promoting the view that Mozart is a greater composer then Haydn (although I think he is)just that building up a collection of Mozart quartets is much more difficult then doing the same of Haydn.

RE: Haydn String Quartets

The Vegh Quartet on French EMI spurred on my interest in the Mozart String Quartets and they remain at the top of the list; only they get that ominous quality at the beginning of K421 right (the Prazaks get close, thanks Parla).

A pity that they didn't record all the Haydn Quartets (as haven't done the Prazaks, much to my surprise).

RE: Haydn String Quartets

I have enjoyed many performances of haydn quartets. The backbones of my collection are the Kodaly Quartet on CD and boxes of the Dekany Quartet on lp.

As with Mozart and Beethoven, Haydn manages to create a soundworld in miniature.

Best wishes,

P

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Historyman is right about Mozart's String Quartets. They are more mature and difficult to perform due to nuances and details in every single step. However, Haydn's Quartets are the "Bible" of the genre. Without having a good knowledge and understanding of them, you cannot go further and comprehend the actual development of the genre.

I enjoy them immensely and I strongly urge anyone who might have the slightest interest in this genre, to thoroughly indulge in them (and they are plenty and gorgeous, compare to all the other composers). By the way, Mozart is probably a greater composer by virtue of his amazing and omnipresent musical genius, but Haydn is a superb one on account of his immense work.

Parla

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Haydn, the greatest of composers. Bach, Mozart or Beethoven almost convince us of a certain transcendence. In Haydn´s music, it doesn´t happen. He always puts us on the ground, in real life. Even in his Masses and oratorios, it is not God who is celebrated, but nature and mankind. That´s the reason why Romantic period rejected the master of light. In his operas, so long neglected, we can also find the irony and clarity that does not captivate those soft-hearted. The string quartets belong to a category very close to the richness of Shakespeare's plays.

Best ensemble? Kodaly String Quartet

Bosco

RE: Haydn String Quartets

Bosco, allow me to have some serious reservations on whether Haydn celebrated only Nature and mankind or that he keeps us always on the ground.

I found his Oratorios and particularly his Masses very divine-oriented. Just indulge in the Credo, the Sanctus and th final Agnus Dei in Harmonienmesse: it is a glorious ascent to the divine light and a hymn to our "imaginary friend" (as one forum member has put it, from his atheist point of view).

In his orchestral and chamber music works, in a tricky and witty way, he moves to very transcendental ways, being entertaining at the same time. Listen to the slow movements of the String Quartets op.77, no.1 or the opening movement of op.42. Or the slow movement of the Symphony no. 88, just to name few.

Parla

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