Day 99: Prussian Quartets

HaydnCD99Today’s CD contains Haydn’s String Quartets titled Opus 50, the “Prussian” quartets, which were composed in 1787. Haydn was 55.

Here’s some background on the Prussian quartets. This paragraph is from a web site called Audiophile Audition that sells high-res recording of these Haydn quartets. (The recordings to which I’m listening are from the Brilliant Classics Haydn Edition. I find these recordings to be splendid.)

The review from Audiophile Audition was written by Mike Birman.

Haydn had entered a new phase of public music making in which a Classical simplicity of utterance and melodic freshness made his music immediately appealing. He simultaneously discovered the stylistic unity in his themes that gives his later works their folk-like quality, in contrast to Mozart’s aristocratic loftiness and emotional ambiguity. The six Op. 50 “Prussian” Quartets were finally completed in September 1787. They were dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia, the cello playing monarch to whom Mozart would dedicate his final three string quartets. The “Prussian” Quartets are wonderfully expressive works, yet they still exhibit that Classical restraint whose bounds would eventually be shattered by Beethoven. The three quartets on this SACD – the third in E-flat major, the fifth in F major “The Dream” and the sixth in D major “The Frog” – are all cheerful untroubled works of striking originality. Featuring many innovations in quartet writing, including an equality of musical discourse amongst the four instruments, their greatest quality is a calm, graceful beauty that immediately entrances the listener. The two named quartets are especially memorable for their expressive originality and bucolic charm.

These were all somewhat interesting. But hardly memorable. They seemed Continue reading