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I do not deny that Haydn did not try to be honest with his masses. However, the mood of his music is almost always upbeat, a celebration of the highest human ideal (especially in the oratorios). On the other hand, the shadow and pessimism (some kind of guilt?) are always present in Mozart´s music, I find no joy in his music.
I agree with you on these examples, Haydn seems to reveal something dramatic, but as I see in a shakespearean tragedy, with a smile of pity for human mediocrity.
However, Bosco, in Haydn's magnificent "Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross", he is dead serious, divinely sublime and transcendentally dramatic. That should make us think that, in his witty, humorous and most humane works, he can subtly hide his seriousness, his strong faith and his brilliant spirit.
On the other hand, there is plenty of Mozart's stuff that is full of joy, brilliant inspiration and humorous invention. Just listen to most of the Marriage of Figaro, or the Magic Flute. Indulge in the last movement of the Violin Sonata in C major, K. 296 to enjoy an openly humorous piece or the first movement of his Violin Sonata in e-minor, K. 304 to see his clear dramatic approach to music. The first movement of his Piano Quartet in g minor, K.491 is assertive enough even to Beethovenian levels. The Overture of Cosi fan tutte is as witty and humorous as it gets.
So, Classical composers of that stature need more subtle analysis and further and constant study of their works.
I'm talking about a predominant feature of Haydn. I don´t disagree with you about the specific case of Seven Last Words but for instance, when we listen the London symphonies basically just number n.98 is a drama that involves the human feeling. The other ones are equally intense, however resemble natural phenomena (lightning, volcan, wind, motion of the planets,...) or basically nothing else (the concept of absolute music). In case of Mozart I always feel a pessimistic mood.
I totally agree with you, we can have this conversation for years and even then not touch the surface of the subject.
"In case of Mozart I always feel a pessimistic mood"
It is astonishing how we hear the great composers differently.Listening to Mozart for me is like cleansing the soul,and appreciating all that is right with the world.
Parla is right in advocating the String Quintets,they are great works as are the quartets,but for me there is one chamber opus that is greater, and typical of Mozart hides his genius in the title - Divertimento for string trio,K.563.
If there is one piece that is perfect in every way,and able to turn depression into a feeling of well being it is K.563.
Indeed, the Divertimento for String Trio, K. 563 is a masterpiece of the grander scale, but I still believe the String Quintets (and the "Haydn" String Quartets) reach the top spots of musical expression and structural perfection.
However, if we confine the discussion on "turning depression into a feeling of well being", probably the K.563 could win the accolade.
Bosco, the Symphony no.98 is a marvelous one with a variety of levels and layers of expressing what you mean as "human feeling". At least, the first two movements of this magnificent Symphony have to say much more than we may imply with human feeling. The perfection of the structure and musical writing refers to almost divine inspiration.
My own choice for the Haydn Quartets are the recordings of the Quatuour Mosaïques on period instruments. They of course didn´t record the complete cycle, but those that they did record are above anything else. Start with the Op.20 and Op. 76, they are exquisite.
You're quite right, Jose. The Quatuor Mosaiques is the best choice in performances of Haydn with "period" instruments (though the Festetics in Arcana are almost equally good).
However, I still prefer the triple presentation of Haydn's String Quartets on Praga with Kocian, Parkanyi and the Prazak Quartets. You may try them. They are sure winners, in superb recordings.
While Haydn remain one of my favourite composers I tend to agree with Bosco regarding the feeling of transcendance in Mozart's music. Haydn can be sublimely spiritual, as the final 6 masses or the 7 Last Words reveal. However, in Mozart one always has the feeling that there is an inner more melancholic story coming out, inbetween the lines. I acquired all Sandor Vegh's recordings of the Divertimenti, Cassations with the Camerata Academica, and though Mozart in this music is often accused of 'note spinning' I hear nothing of the like. Mozart always convey the idea of a deeply felt, personal story, often an inner sadness, even in music which is written for joy only, such as Kleine Nachtmusik or the last contredances.
I would second [or third] the recommendation of the Quatuour Mosaïques, I also enjoy the Lindsays. I have also recently acquired several discs by the Auryn Quartet, which are new recordings and I think very fine indeed. I think it's a lot of fun to buy them individually comparing and contrasting as one progresses. I've been exploring recordings of these string quartets for the past 6 years and only just scratched the surface. I'd start with the Opus 17 and very quickly move on to the Opus 20. The Op 17 are not typical but I think contextualise the develpoment in the Op 20 set, After that where to go? there are over 80! Perhaps the last two [and a fragment] to see where Haydn ended up. By then you'd have an idea of their qualities. Another approach might be to go through them choronolgically.
If you are really interested in this genre of the String Quartet, you should opt for the chronological listening of the works, so that you may truly appreciate the development of this so important form of composition in Classical Music.
Op. 20 is a milestone in the series (the one in C major as well as the two in the minor mode are unique in their beauty, innovation and development of the genre) and the following op.33. However, it's amazing that there is practically not a single Quartet to discard. Op. 74 and 76 as well as the last three (op.77 and the unfinished one) are the crowining masterpieces of them all.
Indulge in them and enjoy the numerous findings of a musical treasure,
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