String Quartet Eb Major Op.20 No. 1 - Cello
This movement is a set of variations , written in D minor; the first variation is a duet between viola and second violin, and the third variation is a solo for cello. With the opus 20 quartets, Haydn moved forward the development of the sonata form.
A movement written in sonata form has an exposition , where the themes and motifs of the movement are presented; a development section, where these themes are transformed; and a recapitulation , where the themes are restated. Traditionally, the restatement closely matched the original exposition. But Haydn, in opus 20, uses the restatement to further develop the material of the movement. For example, in the F minor quartet, Haydn embellishes the original theme, and rearranges the original material, adding to the musical tension as the movement moves to the coda.
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In the G minor quartet, the recapitulation is hardly a recapitulation at all; while all the original materials are included, they are rearranged and transformed. There are other structural innovations in opus Haydn develops the idea of "false reprise". Haydn also experiments with cyclical structure: Haydn experiments with expressive techniques in the quartets. An example of this is the G minor quartet, where Haydn defies the standard practice of ending each movement with a cadence played forte. Instead, Haydn ends each movement piano or pianissimo. Another example is the F minor quartet; this quartet, writes Tovey, "is the most nearly tragic work Haydn ever wrote; its first movement being of astonishing depth of thought".
Haydn experiments with asymmetrical phrases and syncopations. The common practice of the time was to write melodies that divided neatly into four- and eight-measure chunks. But the opening phrase of the third quartet, in G minor, is seven measures long, and the minuet of the same quartet has a melody that is divided into two phrases of five measures each. Indeed, in opus 20, most of the minuet movements are minuets in name only. The minuet was a court dance, through-choreographed, built of four groups of four measures in 3 4 time.
The minuets of opus 20, with the exception of numbers 1 and 6, would be impossible to dance to, as they do not have this formal structure. The minuet of the second quartet in C major is built of tied suspensions in the first violin, viola and cello, so that the listener loses all sense of downbeat.
The fourth quartet has the off-beat alla zingarese movement. The minuet of the fifth quartet has a first section of 18 measures, divided asymmetrically. So far did Haydn stray from the formal minuet dance structure, that in his next set of quartets, opus 33 , he did not call them minuets at all, but rather scherzos.
The fugal finales of three of the six quartets are Haydn's statement of rejection of the galante. Not only has Haydn rejected the freedom of the rococo style, he has emphasized that rejection by adhering to strict formality and writing comments into the score explaining the fugal structure.
The finale of number six is a "Fuga a 3 Soggetti" a fugue with three fugal subjects. The fugal finales are not mere formalism, however; Haydn clothes them in a dramatic structure suitable for the Sturm und Drang. All three movements start out sotto voce ; as the fugue develops formally, the tension mounts, but Haydn does not increase the volume, until a sudden, startling burst of forte. Haydn's fugal finales are not the only use of counterpoint in these quartets.
Haydn revives Baroque compositional techniques in other movements as well. The opening of the second quartet is essentially contrapuntal, with the viola and the second violins playing countersubjects to the cello's principal melodic line. Haydn also uses more obscure techniques; in the adagio movement of the fifth quartet, for example, he writes at one point "per figuram retardationis", meaning that the melodic line in the first violin lags behind the harmonic changes in the accompaniment. While the first movement is in straightforward sonata-allegro form, Haydn nonetheless breaks with the standard quartet model of the period.
The second theme of the exposition is presented by the cello, rather than the violin, playing in a high register above the viola accompaniment. Haydn also disguises the return to the recapitulation after the development section of the movement: Haydn uses this trick of a pretended recapitulation in others of the opus 20 quartets.
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The second movement is a minuet , one of two from the set that follow all the rules of the traditional dance the other is the minuet of number 6. The finale, marked presto , is built on a six-measure phrase, with extensive use of syncopations in the first violin. In the middle of the movement there is an extended passage where the first violin plays syncopations and the other instruments are playing on the second beat of the 2 4 bar; no one plays on the downbeat, and toward the end of the passage the listener loses track of the meter, until the main theme returns.
In this quartet, Haydn develops the equal interplay between the instruments, the quartet conversation. The first movement opens with a cello solo, playing above the accompanying instruments. In the course of the movement every instrument gets to play the solo — even the viola, who, "besides having a vote in the parliament of four The second movement opens with a bold unisono , then the cello states the theme. It is an emotionally charged movement, with dramatic shifts from pianissimo to forte , mixed with cantabile passages with a sextuplet accompaniment in the viola.
Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 20
The minuet, like others in the set, defies choreography. In the opening section, all the instruments are tied across the barline, so the sense of downbeat dissipates. The effect recalls the sound of a musette de cour , or other type of bagpipe. This movement, too, is very chromatic, with the melody of the second section built on a descending chromatic scale in the first violin.
The finale is a fugue with four subjects. Haydn marks the opening sempre sotto voce. The fugue ripples along in an undertone, through various learned fugal maneuvers — a stretto , al rovescio.
Felix Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat major, op. 20, for strings () | Library of Congress
The texture gradually thins so that only two voices are playing at once, when suddenly the fugue bursts into forte and cascades of sixteenth notes lead to the close of the quartet. In the autograph edition, Haydn wrote over this passage, "Laus. Sic fugit amicus amicum" Praise the Lord.
Thus one friend flees another friend. The enigma begins with the opening theme of the first movement: It is almost as if Haydn was wagging his tongue at his contemporaries, violating accepted shibboleths of composition. Haydn continues the odd phrase structure in the minuet, which is built of five-measure units. Aside from its undanceable meter, the minuet is a sombre work, emphatically minor in character.
The trio ends with a plagal cadence to G major, for a Baroque-like Picardy third conclusion; but then the minuet recapitulates in G minor.
The move from G major back to G minor is so jolting that Drabkin speculates that the trio might possibly have been borrowed from another piece. The third movement, marked Poco Adagio , is a long cantabile aria in G major, dominated by the first violin and the cello. After the first violin states the theme, the cello takes over with a long rippling line of sixteenth notes. The movement includes a haunting viola solo, unusual in Haydn's quartets, and in quartet writing from that period in general.
The finale is marked Allegro molto. Here, too, Haydn continues to defy accepted practice. Here Haydn makes dramatic use of silence; the opening four-bar theme breaks off suddenly for a half-measure pause. Such pauses recur throughout the movement, giving the movement "a mildly disruptive effect", according to Drabkin. He ends the piece in G major, surprisingly, with a descent from piano to pianissimo.
String Quartets, Op. 20 (Haydn)
If the third quartet of the set is the most obscure and difficult to understand, the fourth is the most popular. The D major quartet, opus 20 number 4, has met with more public recognition than the other five," writes Tovey. The quartet opens with a quiet, almost hymn-like statement of the theme. Suddenly there is a burst of arpeggio in the first violin, lapsing immediately back to the quiet of the first motive. The juxtaposition of calm and vigor continues through the exposition, to the statement of the second theme, and a short codetta leading to the development.
In the development section, Haydn repeatedly offers false reprises: After a section of development, he presents a dominant arpeggio leading back to the first theme. But this is not the reprise, the development goes on. Haydn does this again, and yet again, then sneaks back into the real reprise in a way that the listener does not notice. The movement ends, like several others of the opus 20, in pianissimo.
The second movement, a set of variations in D minor, is one of Haydn's most profound, a rejection of the shallowness of the galante. Haydn's genius encompasses it all". The movement is distinguished by the concertante writing for each of the instruments: In the third movement, the Allegretto alla zingarese , the upper and lower voices play complex, interlocking cross-rhythms, confusing all sense of downbeat. Although the meter is in 3 4 , the pulse is in two, with the strong beats of the upper voices alternating with the strong beats of the lower voices.
The trio section of the movement is a cello solo, marching in perfectly regular 3 4 time, "the perfect foil to the Menuet alla zingarese". The fourth movement continues the gypsy style of the third movement. Chromatic melodies, octave leaps, use of the gypsy scale a minor scale with raised fourth and raised seventh , and flashy virtuoso embellishments in the first violin make this movement "sheer fun for the listener and likewise for the players," writes Miller.
This is the most emotionally intense of the opus 20 quartets. In the opening phrase, the violin sets the tone with a haunting melody. Throughout the first movement — and, indeed, for almost the entire quartet — the first violin leads with the concertante part. Even so, the texture is not galante, for the other parts play important and independent roles throughout.
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Haydn punningly encapsulated the mercurial spirit of this finale when he wrote at the end of the score: Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Don't show me this message again.
String Quartet in C major, Op 20 No 2 composer. September Total duration: Other recordings available for download. Haydn then reassigns the cello tune to the hitherto silent first violin.