Program Note

In a quartet nicknamed “the Joke” one might expect as much. The nickname of the E-flat major quartet Op. 33 No. 2 refers to the ending of its last movement, but Haydn plays at being a delightful trickster in three of the four movements.

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Post

Our first violinist Mark Steinberg introduces the Fragments Project

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Program Note

Haydn composed this music around the same time as the two opus 77 quartets, which were meant to be part of a six-quartet set; presumably, then, this work would have been a third quartet in that set. In failing health, the composer subsequently allowed the fragment to be published by itself, as opus 103.

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Project

…the composite work comprising Haydn’s music and Mark Strand’s poetry forms an integrated artistic whole, with poetry and music symbiotically entwined…

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Program Note

Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, one of the composer’s most profound works, has its genesis in an unusual commission.

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Program Note

By 1790, when the Op. 64 set of six string quartets was published, Haydn was writing to satisfy a great demand for his music throughout Europe. These were to be among the final works he wrote as a servant.

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Program Note

Coming fast on the heels of two earlier sets (opus 9 and opus 17), the opus 20 quartets are arguably Haydn’s first quartet masterpieces. They make the fullest use of four completely independent voices (in his earlier quartets Haydn would often fuse the viola and cello parts together to be one line), employ a much expanded range of texture and dynamics, and show for the first time the composer’s flexibility in phrase length and structure, with all its attendant capacity for wit and surprise.

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Program Note

In fact, the six opus 76 Quartets were not written for the public, but were commissioned by the Hungarian Count Erdödy, who enjoyed having them to himself for two years (in the meantime, Haydn cannily sold them to two separate publishers in London and Vienna). As a set, they are unquestionably the most popular and most often performed of his many quartets, and some would say his greatest quartet masterpieces as well.

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Program Note

The present quartet, the so-called “Quinten” Quartet shares its d minor, significantly, with Mozart’s K421 quartet, dedicated to Haydn, and Bach’s Art of Fugue. Its first movement evinces a seriousness of style and a learned aspect fully resonant with these earlier masterpieces.

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Program Note

The six opus 64 quartets straddle this moment of change. Haydn wrote the last two of these quartets (including the celebrated “Lark” quartet) with the London public in view, while the first four are still the creation of Haydn the court composer. The Quartet in B-flat, opus 64 number 3, displays characteristics worthy of both milieus: its extroverted brilliance would play well to a large hall, but it retains the characteristics of the genius of the Esterhaza laboratory: curiosity, experiment, innovation.

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Program Note

Joseph Haydn’s opus 33 string quartets are widely held to be the first set wherein the composer displayed full maturity in his mastery of the form – this in spite of their brilliantly experimental opus 20 precursors. The opus 33 quartets are dubbed “Gli Scherzi”, a reference to Haydn’s replacement of the more usual Minuet movement with a lighter, quicker Scherzo in each work.

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Recording

Listen to clips: Quartet in E-Flat, Opus 71 #3 [First Movement] Quartet in D, Opus 71 #2 [First Movement] To purchase this recording, contact Misha Amory at mishaamory@gmail.com . $15 per CD plus $2 S&H.

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