• Haydn: Three String Quartets from Op. 33

  • CD 2608

Joseph Haydn - “To Rise Above the Situation”

In April 1782 Joseph Haydn sent his six string quartets op. 33 to Artaria; his publisher in Vienna; with a letter emphasizing the originality of the works: “They are in a completely new and unique style; especially since the last [quartets] that I wrote were ten years ago.” The preceding quartets (opus 20) did in fact date back to 1772. And although he wrote some thirty quartets between 1766 and 1772; he hadn’t composed anything in this genre “since ten years ago”.

A New Haydn

The First String Quartet in B Minor is marked from the beginning by an exceptional force due to its striking theme; headstrong (the four repeated notes) and yet a bit mysterious despite emphatic interjections and sharply marked contrasts between lyric and rhythmic cells. The development centers around the beginning of the opening theme and demonstrates particularly supple and inventive writing.

This resolute Allegro moderato is followed by a Scherzo in the same style with very marked rhythms; the Trio develops into a kind of question and answer game. In spite of its expressive melody; the following Andante continues the rhythmic verve encountered until this point: even in the dialogue/opposition between the first violin and the cello one can sense an underlying accentuation that becomes more prominent in the finale with vigorous pulses that seem to compensate for the chromatic descending passage or the brief pauses before the coda.

Everything here is filled with an indomitable force and energy. This is indeed a new Haydn.

Haydn: Three String Quartets from Op. 33

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