June 14, , Nov. June 12, , April 30, Suite for two Violins, Cello and Piano left hand Op. June 19, Piano Quintet in E Major, Op.
The Father of the String Quartet
June 19, , November 24, Piano Trio in D Major, Op. May 7, , May 15, May 17, April 8, Above Clouds for Viola and Piano. March 1, Quintet No. June 1, , May 13, April 16, June 6, May 30, Kammersinfonie No. May 4, , Feb. String Quartet in d minor, Op.
May 3, Fantasy Op. March 30, Symphony No. Viktor Derewianko. March 11, May 4, May 30, , June 9, Sonata for Oboe and Continuo No.
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Five Bagatells for Guitar The London Haydn Quartet is the ideal advocate for these works and gives elegant, radiant and exhilaratingly assured performances. After the divertimento-like quartets of the s published as Opp 1 and 2 came a gap of over a decade.
When Haydn returned to the quartet genre in he did so with a vengeance, producing over the next few years the three sets of six, Op 9, Op 17 and Op With their weighty four-movement structures and mastery of rhetoric and thematic development, these works are a world away from the breezy quartets of Opp 1 and 2. Yet fine as Op 9 and Op 17 are, the quartets of Op 20 of —an annus mirabilis which also produced three magnificent symphonies, Nos 45—47—explore the technical and expressive potential of the medium with a new spirit of adventure.
By Haydn, already an acknolwedged master of the eccentric, the comic and the surprising, had become the supreme master of long-range sonata strategy. In Op 20, even more than in the finest of Op 9 and Op 17, the form of each movement is dictated by the material, with the recapitulations both resolving and re-interpreting, often radically, earlier events. Op 20 left a profound impression on Mozart, and on Beethoven, who copied out No 1 and parts of the other quartets before embarking on his Op 18 set.
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Brahms owned the autograph manuscripts until he bequeathed them to the Viennese Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Neither edition was authorized by the composer. Whereas the first violin had ruled over long stretches of Opp 9 and 17, in Op 20 Haydn conceives the discourse as a free exchange of ideas, with each player accorded a vital, distinct identity. The finale of No 3, for instance, divides its theme in all sorts of ways: first between the two violins, who later proceed to swap roles, then between cello and first violin, and finally as a dialogue between the lower and upper pairs of instruments.
These equal-opportunity tendencies culminate in the fugues that crown Nos 2, 5 and 6. The contrapuntal mastery he had honed in his early symphonies and his sacred music of the late s is coloured here by the drama and wit of his sonata style. Far more than in Opp 9 and 17, each work has a sharply individual profile.
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Indeed, no set of Haydn quartets is as varied or eccentrically inspired as Op 20 until Op 76 a quarter of a century later. It is as if the forty-year-old composer, at the summit of his powers, conceived the set as a showcase for his technical and expressive virtuosity. The six quartets that Mozart dedicated to Haydn in leave a similar impression.
They could hardly be more strongly contrasted. The outer movements of No 3 in G minor are astringent, nervy, sometimes bizarrely elliptical. In the opening Allegro con spirito, whose eccentric main theme in an eccentric texture, with viola doubling first violin at the octave comprises a four-bar plus a three-bar phrase, Haydn veers abruptly between hectic desperation and recurrent buffo-like fragments whose effect is mocking, even sinister, rather than jolly. In the exposition and development a little wriggling unison figure, like a stage aside, adds a touch of grotesquerie.
The desolate minuet, its unease enhanced by the pervasive five-bar phrases, is relieved by its exquisite, lulling E flat major trio. Both minuet and trio fade away strangely on the brink of C minor, an effect that Haydn replicates in the unsettling pianissimo close of the finale. Though written against the background of sonata form, the Poco adagio, in G major, is essentially a fantasy on a single ardent melody. A rare surviving sketch for Op 20 reveals that Haydn originally conceived the melody for cello rather than first violin.
While the G minor is still relatively neglected, No 5 in F minor, greatly admired by Gluck when he visited Haydn in , has long been a favourite.
The sinuous, elegiac main theme is, characteristically, immediately varied, and then recast when it appears in the relative major, A flat. The central development, beginning with a sequential expansion of the main theme, varies rather than truly develops the material. Rigorous thematic argument is reserved for the coda, the most eventful and extended in any Haydn quartet to date. Here the composer wonderfully expands a moment of harmonic mystification in the exposition and then works a fragment of the second theme to an impassioned, even tragic, climax.
The powerful minuet contrasts a strenuous forte statement with a plaintive piano answer which Mozart perhaps remembered in the minuet of his G minor String Quintet. In the second half Haydn prolongs and intensifies the forte statement and enhances the poignancy of the piano reply with a surprise harmonic deflection.
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After this almost unrelieved emphasis on F minor, the F major trio brings harmonic balm, though with its irregular phrase lengths it is not quite so innocent as it may first seem. F major returns in the limpid Adagio, whose guileless siciliano theme is freely varied with quasi-improvisatory arabesques from the first violin.