17 dic. 2009

I've been trying to figure out why I like Haydn's String Quartets so much, since I was never that big on the classical style. I tended always to go baroque or modern, and preferred Beethoven to Mozart or Haydn. Now Haydn is imposing himself on me in a big way, and the quartets specifically. I haven't even heard them all, but I have a passing acquaintance now with opus 20, 54, 64, 74, 76. (The numbering is confusing, because there are about several systems for this, so I'm just going with the op. #. Each opus has 3-6 quartets, each of four movements, usually an allegro, an adagio, a minuet, and a fast finale, though sometimes the minuet and adagio are reversed.) I guess the best way to account for this would be to go for the most obvious elements first and work my way toward the mystery.

Melody: the music is tuneful and immediately pleasing. That would be good even if there were nothing else. I have his melodies in my head all the time.

Structure: the structures are fairly easy to follow within each movement. You don't need a huge amount of sophistication and you don't get lost. A high degree of intelligibility. You get the feeling that it is accessible to very modest musical intelligences, like my own, but still probably satisfying for greater ones.

Where I find the appeal is in the combination of a kind of quirky unpredictability with seemingly facile and even formulaic structures and cadences. He is never afraid just to go up and down an arpeggio if that is what is called for. He is inventive in the interplay between instruments; it is as though he were writing a textbook on different ways you might write a quartet. Each movement of each work is unique: there is no sense that he could ever run out of musical ideas. Almost every possible mood is there. There is turmoil and spritely wit, bomastic pride, tenderness and even mild anger. I guess it's a cliché to say he doesn't do tragedy, but I don't really miss it.

4 comentarios:

Brian dijo...

I read in some liner notes at one point that Haydn was known for his humor and playful, even 'pranksterish', personality. Easily heard in his music.

Jonathan dijo...

Well yeah. The surprise symphony and all that. The word scherzo means "joke" in Italian and he is known for his musical jokes.

Vance Maverick dijo...

There's good stuff in the symphonies too, e.g. the Oxford. There too, it's a marvel how clearly he can moves from A to B and back without actually using distinct thematic material to mark the points.

Nick Piombino dijo...

I spent a number of years more or less constantly listening to the Haydn String Quartets- I liked the Lindsays the best. What do you think of them?

Anyway, Happy New Year and I hope all is well...