HAYDN Selected String Quartets Emerson


String Quartets
op. 20 No. 5 ˇ op. 33 No. 2
op. 54 No. 1 ˇ op. 64 No. 5
op. 74 No. 3 ˇ op. 76 No. 2
op. 77 No. 1
Emerson String Quartet
Int. Release 03 Sep. 2001
0289 471 3272 1
CD DDD 0289 471 3272 1 GH 2
+ Bonus CD

Track List

CD 1: Haydn: String Quartets Op.20, Op.33 "The Joke", Op.54 & Op.64

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
String Quartet in F Minor, Hob. III:35 (Op.20 No.5)




String Quartet In E Flat Major, Hob. III:38 (Op.33 No.2)

String Quartet in G Major, Hob. III:57 (Op.54 No.1)



String Quartet In D Major, Hob. III:63, (Op.64 No.5 "The Lark")


Emerson String Quartet

Total Playing Time 1:13:43

CD 2: Haydn: String Quartets Op.74 "The Rider", Op.76 "Fifths" & Op.77

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
String Quartet in G Minor, Hob. III:74 (Op.74, No.3)



String Quartet In D Minor, Hob. III:76 (Op.76 No.2 - "Fifths")



String Quartet in G Major, Hob. III:81 (Op.77 No.1)


Emerson String Quartet

Total Playing Time 1:08:15

CD 3: Haydn: String Quartets

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
String Quartet No.14 In G, K.387

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
Antonín Dvo?ák (1841 - 1904)
String Quartet No.12 In F Major, Op.96 "American" B. 179


Charles Edward Ives (1874 - 1954)
String Quartet No.2


Anton Webern (1883 - 1945)
5 Movements For String Quartet, Op.5


Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
String Quartet No.13 In A Minor, D. 804 "Rosamunde"


Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
String Quartet No. 4, BB 95, Sz. 91

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
String Quartet In C, Op.59 No.3 - "Rasumovsky No. 3"

Emerson String Quartet

Total Playing Time 39:00

. . . das Emerson Quartet [hat] mit "The Haydn Project" einen hinreißend musizierten Querschnitt gezogen.
The Emerson Quartet

In 2001 the EMERSON STRING QUARTET celebrates its 25th anniversary. Formed in 1976, it takes its name from the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer have shared the responsibilities of first and second violin since the Quartet's inception. Exclusively with Deutsche Grammophon since 1987, the Emerson String Quartet has achieved a reputation as one of the foremost ensembles of its kind. Appearing regularly in the world's musical capitals, the Quartet has garnered unanimous critical acclaim, performing a wide variety of repertoire ranging from 18th-century classics to contemporary works. The Emersons' now-legendary recital of the six quartets of Bartók in a single evening has been heard around the globe, and their numerous Beethoven cycles take them from New York to London to Tokyo. The Quartet's many accolades include honorary degrees and awards from distinguished universities.

The Emersons' collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon has produced numerous recordings of the Viennese classics - Haydn's "Emperor" Quartet, Mozart's "Haydn" Quartets and Flute Quartets (with Carol Wincenc), as well as Schubert's C major String Quintet (with Mstislav Rostropovich), "Death and the Maiden" and G major Quartets. Their complete recording of the Bartók Quartets not only received the "Grammy" award for Best Chamber Music Recording of 1989, it also became the first chamber music recording in history to win the "Grammy" for Best Classical Album. Similarly, the magazine Gramophone singled out their Bartók Quartets not only as best chamber music recording but also as Record of the Year. Their disc of quartets by Ives and Barber ("American Originals") was awarded the Grammy for Best Chamber Music Recording of 1993. Their complete Beethoven Quartet cycle won the 1997 "Grammy" for Best Chamber Music Recording. A disc coupling Edgar Meyer's Quintet with Ned Rorem's String Quartet was released in March 1998, and the Quartet's most recent recording, the complete String Quartets of Shostakovich, released in January 2000, won the "Grammy" for Best Classical Album and Best Chamber Music Recording and Gramophone's prize as the year's Best Chamber Music Recording.

The Emerson discography also includes the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets (with David Shifrin), Dvorák's Piano Quintet op.81 and Piano Quartet op.87 and Schumann's Piano Quintet op.44 and Piano Quartet op.47 (all with Menahem Pressler), the complete music for string quartet by Webern and the Prokofiev Quartets, as well as a recital of works by contemporary American composers. The Quartet has also been the subject of two award-winning films.

The Emerson String Quartet's extraordinary performance and recording career is augmented by its dedication to contemporary music, education and social responsibility. Each season it introduces new works commissioned from such composers as John Harbison, Ned Rorem, Wolfgang Rihm, Gunther Schuller and Richard Wernick. The Emerson is Resident Quartet at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford (Connecticut) and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and gives master classes every year at the Aspen Music Festival. Through benefit performances, the Quartet has championed many causes, ranging from nuclear disarmament to the struggle against AIDS, world hunger and children's diseases.

Quartets for the Modern World I

Quartets for the Modern World
Paul Epstein

I. Becoming Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn, born 1732 in Rohrau - a little river town in eastern Austria, near the border of Hungary and present-day Slovakia, an ancient and culturally complex area, with vineyards dating back to the Romans.

Philip Setzer: History matters. If you really imagine what Haydn was like, and what it was like to live at that time, it does make his music more alive, more real.

The 1730's were vibrant times: the Enlightenment flourished, important scientific discoveries and social developments were taking place that are still part of modern life. The decade saw mature work by Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Rameau - not to mention Hogarth, Tiepolo, Hume, Linnaeus, Voltaire, Swift, Pope, Fielding et al.

During the years in which Haydn wrote quartets:
1759 Sterne: Tristram Shandy
1762 Rousseau: The Social Contract
1763 Pompeii first excavated
1764 Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary
1769 Watt's steam engine
1770 Hargreaves' spinning jenny; factory system established
1771 First edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica
1772 Op.20 no.5
1774 Priestley discovers oxygen
1775 Volta's electric battery
1776 American Declaration of Independence
1781 Op.33 no.2; Kant: Critique of Pure Reason
1782 Rousseau: Confessions
1784 Beaumarchais: Marriage of Figaro
1788 Op.54 no.1; Fitch's steamboat; Goethe: Egmont
1789 French Revolution begins
1790 Op.64 no.5
1791 US Bill of Rights
1793 Op.74 no.3; Whitney's cotton gin; David: Death of Marat
1796 Jenner's first vaccinations
1797 Op.76 no.2
1798 Wordsworth: Lyrical Ballades
1799 Op.77 no.1; Napoleon becomes first Consul
1800 Beethoven: Quartets op.18; discovery of ultraviolet rays
1806 formal dissolution of Holy Roman Empire; Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific

Some of Haydn's contemporaries:
George Washington (born the same year, also a well-known "papa"), Kant, Lessing, Klopstock, Hume, Gainsborough, Thomas Paine, Beaumarchais, Gibbon, David, Winckelmann, Boswell, Goya, Fragonard, Adam Smith

"The proper study of mankind is man."
(Pope, Essay on Man, 1733)

Haydn's father, a master wheelwright and farmer, loved to sing, organized little family concerts with the children. Mother was "accustomed to neatness, industry and order, which qualities she sternly required from her children from their tenderest years." 1

1738 - aged six, sent to learn music in Hainburg on the Danube, about eight miles away , at a music school run by a distant relative. "He learned all the usual instruments, and was praised for his studious diligence." His pleasant voice brought him notice and a ticket to the capital as a choirboy.

1740-50 - sang at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna - city life - a "lively" youth; rudimentary musical instruction.

1750 - Dismissed when his voice changed; on his own at 18. "Innocent of the comforts of life, he divided his whole time among giving lessons, the industrious study of his art, and performing in serenades and orchestras." He lived in a "miserable little attic room without a stove". On the first floor lived, significantly, the Dowager Princess Esterházy; on the third, the famous court poet and librettist, Metastasio.

Bach the father had just died; the musical world was fundamentally changing. Lines of commerce, information and stylistic influence grew more Continental; the bourgeoisie became a primary market force. Driven by a demand for easily graspable musical comedy (opera), public spectacle (concerto, symphony), or self-improvement (sonatas, chamber music), Baroque richness was giving way to a much sparser, proto-Classical style, the "galant" - bustling, fun, a little vapid, exemplified in the work of Johann Sebastian's youngest son, Johann Christian, the "London" Bach. There was a more "artistic", "expressionist" style, the
empfindsamer Stil, promoted by his big brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel, the "Berlin and Hamburg" Bach (to which Haydn was probably more attuned). But as Charles Rosen remarks: "During those years a composer had to choose between dramatic surprise and formal perfection, expressivity and elegance..." Haydn, after 25 years of working, would be the first to successfully synthesize galant and empfindsamkeit, a synthesis, in truth, of "high" and "low", "Classical" and "Pop", an immensely important, boundary-breaking musical "unified field theory" of the sort towards which each age aspires."

Through Metastasio, Haydn met the opera composer Porpora, who, in 1755, engaged him as accompanist, student and sometime valet. He worked his way through the important texts of the time - Fux's counterpoint and C.P.E. Bach's instruction book - made contacts, turned into a real musician.

Around 1757, one of Haydn's connections, Fürnberg, who would soon help him get his first Kapellmeister job, was in the habit of inviting "his pastor, his steward, Haydn and Albrechtsberger (brother of the celebrated contrapuntist, and a cellist) for small musical gatherings. Fürnberg requested Haydn to compose something that could be performed by these four friends of the Art. He took up this proposal, and thus originated his first quartet which, immediately, it appeared, was so enthusiastically received that Haydn was encouraged to work further in this form."

Lawrence Dutton: I remember, when I was a student, hanging out with people who were into chamber music, and we used to get together and read chamber music, sometimes the whole night. We'd read tons and tons of Haydn quartets - we really played them in the in the spirit they were first intended - and just be astonished by the wit and the humor and all the incredible emotions.

In 1759, Count Morzin hired him as Kapellmeister (master of the "chapel", the estate's music establishment) for whom he wrote his first symphony. But Morzin ran out of money, and the next year Haydn went to work as vice-Kapellmeister for the very rich and more established Esterházy family. Prince Paul Anton was succeeded in 1762 by his brother Nikolaus, Haydn's musical patron for the next 28 years.

Haydn became full Kapellmeister in 1766, the same year Prince Nikolaus started work on Eszterháza, his "Hungarian Versailles," the Empire's last and most lavish Rococo palace. It would contain an opera house and a marionette theatre, a great hall - where so many of the symphonies were first heard - and chapels and salons for which Haydn wrote masses and chamber music.

Philip Setzer: Larry and I were talking about the idea of recording bringing an intimacy to the listening experience. I mean, the microphone is closely placed, and most people listen to this music in their living room. It brings the music back to the 'drawing room', the salon. In that way, the recording is more historically accurate than a performance in a big concert hall.

Once the theatres were finished in 1768, Nikolaus, and his Kapelle, spent increasing time there. There were the opera season, ceremonial occasions, festivals and social events for Haydn to write for and produce. Eszterháza was away from the social and artistic mainstream, built on the site of a lakeside hunting lodge some 50 miles south-east of Vienna, in present-day Hungary. But he had great resources and a supportive audience:

"My Prince was satisfied with all my works; I received approval; as head of an orchestra, I could undertake experiments, could observe that which enhanced an effect and that which weakened it, thus improving, adding to it, taking away from it, taking risks. I was cut off from the world; there was no one in my vicinity to make me unsure of myself or to persecute me; and so I had to become original."
Haydn, quoted in Griesinger

The story of Haydn's stylistic evolution is interesting, but less dramatic and, in the end, less pertinent to the appreciation of his music than, say, Shostakovich's or Beethoven's. He found his own voice in his early 40s, after a long and fascinating development which produced many fine works (especially from the preceding, so-called "Sturm und Drang" period, when he worked with more extreme effects, minor keys and formal experiments like the fugue-finales of op.20), and he felt no political or psychological pressure to change it, other than to work at, deepen and enrich it over the next 30 years, until it became one of the most powerful and subtle expressive instruments in history.

From the beginning, people liked Haydn's music; it had, and still has, that "thing". Early in his career, published editions, mostly pirated, began to appear all over Europe. But his reputation really took off when he achieved his mature, 'popular' style in the early 1770s. In the words of the eminent Haydn scholar, H.C. Robbins Landon:

"This 'popular' style was a judicious admixture of tunes which, if not directly folk melodies, sounded just like them; of a witty, droll style which took much of its language from the fashionable opera buffa; and of learned writing (fugues, etc.) which, combined with Haydn's impeccable sense of form and length, interested the professional musicians, such as C.P.E. Bach and Mozart. Haydn's music, in fact, appealed to amateur and professional alike, and to all classes - from the French merchant in Lyon to the Russian prince in St. Petersburg. It was an entirely new phenomenon and one that Europe had never before experienced on this broad an international scale." Haydn: A Documentary Study

Like many of the other great concepts of his era, the musical language developed by Haydn has permeated deep into our culture, even informing the structure and harmony of much contemporary commercial and pop music. Contrary to today's all-too-prevalent audience apprehension that we "don't know anything about music", it's so natural that we are unaware of knowing it. In fact, we already have the tools to get inside of this music and, more importantly, to get it inside of us.

Eugene Drucker: It's music that has a mission. It's not there simply to entertain, it's there either to unfold a narrative or to engage in discourse and improve the listener, in true Enlightenment fashion.

Quartets for the Modern World II

Paul Epstein

II. Operating Manual

Eugene Drucker: All a listener needs is alertness and a capacity for surprise.

In the beginning was the phrase. The building block. There are smaller musical elements - notes, rhythms, chords - but the phrase is where they first unite to make formal sense; it is the basis of Haydn's musical rhetoric. The phrase has a melodic shape, a rhythmic profile. Perhaps accompaniment patterns pulse inside, or chords hang in the background. Perhaps the melody is on top, underneath, or fragmented all over. It may hardly be there at all - just a few notes and a memory.

As the first phrase of a movement unfolds, we learn two things (among many):
a)the meter - how many beats in a bar, the underlying stress pattern, the "groove", the metric frame within and against which all the rhythms play;
b)the key - that note or chord around which all the harmonies in the piece revolve, the home base that allows Haydn the essential technique of making the harmony feel as if it were going somewhere, coming back, or triumphantly staying put. When this sensation of motion reinforces melodic development and contrast, it creates a powerful musical narrative known as sonata.

Meter and key are like the blood and nervous system of the music - essential, but sensed only through the healthy functioning of the entire system2. Meter and key, and the harmonic rhythm they create together, are only implied by the notes: they exist not entirely in sound, but in the mind of the listener. This is one of the most Enlightenment, even Revolutionary, aspects of this music. It allows for the humor, the playing with our expectations, the sense of dialogue and drama that are the Classical style's greatest developments.

Philip Setzer: As soon as you talk about humor, about wit in music, you're saying that the composer is writing in order to get an immediate response from the listener, writing directly to his audience.

The clarity and vividness of Haydn's gestures help us "play along" and keep an image of the music in our conscious mind. This image is so strong that Haydn can pull all the notes out of it, as when, in the "Rider", after its first eight, plunging, 3/4 bars, you can feel, in the two-bar silence that follows, everybody in the hall still riding. That silence, a dramatic coup and attention focuser, is also a subtle indication that the preceding, sweeping gesture was only a prelude: it is never heard again, though its echo persists through the rest of the movement and grounds the more off-the-beat phrasing of the real opening theme, which follows.

Fate is partial to repetitions, variations, symmetries.
(Borges, The Plot)

Haydn achieved amazing diversity within a single format. Except for op.20 no.5's fugue-finale, every one of these seven highly varied quartets has exactly the same assortment of movements - a fast, complex, opening sonata movement; a moderate-to-slow song-like piece; a dance number in 3/4 time; and a very fast, often comic, finale. This four-movement form could be loosely described as: Story, Song, Dance, Party. (In the first two quartets the dance precedes the song.)

Each first movement sonata spins a variation on a basic, three-part shape:
a) A theme is first proposed, built from phrases and motives of strong character. The music then seems to move, develop with increasing intensity, into areas of contrasting character and key, often stating a whole new tune, sometimes taking the original through changes (the "Joke", op.77 no.1). A strongly cadential (i.e. harmonically grounding) closing section, often with its own tune, concludes this Exposition about a third of the way through the movement. This is an important moment. The first time we get to it Haydn calls for a repeat, to go back to the top. In a instant we can feel how far we've come. He exploits the dramatic potential of this sudden turnaround for shock (op.20 no.5, the "Quinten") or humor (the "Lark", op.77 no.1). The second time we come to it, we sail off into the
b)Development section, where the exposition's constellation of themes and motives is expanded,
expounded, varied and finally brought back to the
c)beginning - another significant moment - where the Exposition is Recapitulated, which in this case means transformed, reinterpreted, sometimes a bit rearranged, so that contrasts are resolved and the music, rather than roam, stays rooted to the key - to home.

The last three movements all have stronger popular roots, with catchy, stanzaic tunes and short-term, symmetrical forms that keep returning to the home key (the tonic). When popular genres began to appear in concert pieces and chamber music in the early 1700s, it wasn't exactly pop music, but rather music about pop music, riffing on its conventions, using its elements towards quite sophisticated, sometimes emotional, sometimes hilarious, ends. Haydn began to expand these movements from within, using sonata techniques of harmonic development and dramatic contrast, until many become full-blown sonatas. (The fugal finale of op.20 no.5 - half the op.20's have them - was a whole other way of rounding off the increasingly large-scale string quartet form, picked up later by Beethoven.)

Though the slow movements are formally varied, they all start as songs or arias. In op.20 no.5 and the "Joke" they turn into sonata-like expositions, followed by operatically embellished recapitulations. In op.54 no.1 and op.77 no.1 they are full sonatas with developments. In the "Lark", "Rider" and "Quinten", a rounded, aria-like tune and its ornamented recap surround a dramatic, minor-key interlude.

The minuet (or the German/Italian portmanteau "menuetto") was the only important Baroque dance still current. It was a relaxed and graceful dance, popular with the late 18th-century aristos. In Haydn's four-movement scheme, it is something quite else. The minuet is a release after the emotional depths of the slow movement, or, if it's the second movement, after the complexity of the first, and it often provides comic relief, with sped-up tempos, added bars and zany juxtapositions, as in the "Quinten" where the minuet is a learned canon and the trio is a primitive folk-dance that dissolves into a little pirouette. A central "Trio" section is often a spot for rustic jokes and broad gestures. In the "Joke" (and all the op.33 quartets) he calls this movement "scherzo" (from Italian for "jest", or "play"), a habit later picked up by Beethoven.

"What's happening during Haydn's silences?"
David Finckel: I just sit there and wait for Gene, Phil or Larry to start it up again. All seriousness aside, that's what I'm thinking. I wonder what the audience is thinking...

Haydn used different means to conclude the big string-quartet form. There is the fugue in op.20 no.5, where the uniform groove grounds the work's momentum, and its fugal, four-voice build-up mimics the build-up of movements throughout the piece. The "Joke", op.54 no.1 and "Lark" all end with a comic rondo, an ancient form where a main theme alternates with counter-themes of different character. Aside from the over-all exhilaration, (the finale of the "Lark" is a manic moto perpetuo) the fun lies in how Haydn prepares the main theme's many returns, how he hesitates and fakes with teasing up-beats, as in op.54 no.1, or pregnant pauses - a joke that, in the "Joke", finally blows the piece up. The finales of the "Rider", "Quinten" and op.77 no.1 look towards Mozart and Beethoven by taking rondo materials and building complex, large-scale sonata movements.

Haydn's music seems to embody life "as we know it". Its acute and profound drama is pitched on a very human scale, like Chekhov's tragic farce. The clear concentration of Haydn's quartet language recalls the definition of a great painting as one where every element relates to every other, or of a great poem where every word adds to the over-all effect and meaning. Haydn put some of his finest work into the quartet medium; his last instrumental work was the unfinished Quartet op.103.

Philip Setzer: One of the problems "classical" art in general has is that people feel that they don't know anything about it. They're intimidated before they even look at a painting or listen to a quartet. Haydn is a good composer to listen to in order to break through that prejudice - he's "user-friendly".
You have the sense when you're listening to Haydn that you're in a very good company, there's a sense of liking him. I never get the sense that I have to deal with his ego - even with Beethoven, as much as I worship Beethoven, and even Mozart, to some extent...Whereas Haydn seems like - I mean he's a great, great genius - but he seems more like one of us.


1 All uncredited quotes are from either Dies or Griesinger, Haydn's first biographers, who wrote down the aging composer's recollections.
2 Central to all human musical practice is the inclination for the things of the mind and body to persist, to repeat, to remain. Concepts of iterated rhythm and pervasive, enduring tonal center seem so basic to musical thought as to be neuro-chemical, a part of the body's thick counterpoint. This tendency is countered by the equally natural human impulse to change, explore and generally wriggle under God's thumb, creating a dynamic and fruitful tension that has always driven music history.

H. C. Robbins Landon on The Emerson String Quartet

It was some 20 years ago, in the early 1980s, that I first had the good fortune to work with the Emerson String Quartet. I was visiting professor of music history at Middlebury College in Vermont, and the Emerson Quartet was engaged as the quartet-in-residence for the autumn term. We did an extensive Mozart series together, including discarded movements (very interesting) as well as extensive sketches, extending to parts of whole movements which Mozart later rejected. And, of course, the Emersons played complete Mozart quartets as well, and I also had a chance to hear their soon-to-be-famous renditions of Beethoven quartets. There were several things that immediately struck me about their performances. The most obvious one was the intense passion with which they played everything. The second was their sheer technical perfection; they had rehearsed everything with great attention to details. The third was the fact that the two violins changed places frequently, giving us a real sense of democracy. I thought they were a remarkable ensemble and would soon become world famous. At that time I had barely heard their Haydn, but now, fortunately, we have a generous selection of CDs with seven representative quartets from opus 20 (1777) to opus 77 (1799). They devote the same intense study and passion to Haydn as to their other performances, and I salute their quarter of a century together! Continuez comme ça!

Domaine de Foncoussičres
June 2001