Day 100: A Milestone Worthy Of a “Tost”

HaydnCD100It’s hard to believe that 100 days have passed since I began this exploration of Haydn’s music.

One-hundred days!

There are only 50 days left, less than two months.

Today’s CD offers Opus 55, which – like its predecessor Opus 54 – is known as the “Tost” quartets, named after Johann Tost, a violinist in the Esterhazy orchestra from 1783-89. These string quartets were composed in 1788. Haydn was 56.

I listened to Haydn CD 100 featuring Opus 55 twice through today. I wish I could say I remembered a note of what I heard. These string quartets are serviceable. They’re well crafted. But they don’t jump out at me.

Your mileage my vary.

Here’s what I listened to this morning: Continue reading

Day 52: Like a German Monty Python

HaydnCD52Today’s CD, Haydn’s opera Die Feuersbrunst (“The Burned-Down House”), is a very odd duck indeed.

For one thing, some of this sounds like a Monty Python skit with a couple of guys talking in high-pitched voices pretending to be women. Or kids. Or marionettes, as is the subject-matter of this “comic opera in two acts.”

From the website

The plot, involving the adventures of a buffoon named Hanswurst who speaks in a light Viennese dialect, is truly absurd enough to defy summary, but it’s fast-moving and full of amorous intrigue between masters and servants. Both the arias and the spoken interludes are brief, and Haydn rose to the occasion with a mixture of jolly tunes and exaggerated pathos that must have been great fun for all involved. The singers (there are four vocal parts) enter into the situation-comedy spirit of the action…

Buffoons and situation-comedy jocularity. Yes. It’s all here.

Along with lots and lots of talking. In German. It’s like an immersive German-language course.

What I can’t figure out is why this comedic opera is called Die Feuersbrunst. When I typed “Feuersbrunst” into Google, up popped these images:

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 9.12.34 AMSo that’s what a Feuersbrunst looks like. Here are a couple more definitions from Continue reading