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Haydn Andante with Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII/6

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by jlr43, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    For Haydn aficionados, the F Minor variations will undoubtedly need no introduction, although the piece may not be as well known to the general classical-music-loving population as it should be IMHO. It is arguably Haydn's single greatest work (although the late C Major and E-flat Major sonatas would give it a run for its money) and the greatest example of one of the composer's favorite forms, the double variation. Here the composer seems to experiment with the newer piano's expanded capabilities more fully than anywhere else, even IMO in comparison with those two sonatas (which are roughly from around the same time in ca. 1793-94). Dynamic markings are quite specific, including a plethora of crescendos and diminuendos. My favorite passage (and also the most difficult) is the passage in trills in the majore portion of variation 2. This passage, I must say, is a real bitch :p I worked hard to get it even but it's still far from perfect. Several other things to note about the edition/performance:

    1. At the end of variation 2 before the finale, there is in my performance a short transitional measure of 5 bars that appears in the Schott-Universal Wiener-Urtext edition but doesn't appear in many others. The critical notes indicate that it is believed these bars were mistakenly omitted from the final version because of a misplaced tempo indication. Other evidence cited is that this majore part of the double variation is two measures shorter than the parallel passage in the theme (17 vs. 19), which would make its 4 bars including the repeat roughly parallel to the 5 here. It also IMO provides a nice segue back to the theme, providing a sense of conclusion to the variations before the real finale, which ironically begins by returning to the theme.

    2. I think the ending is one of the most beautiful moments in Haydn. Interestingly, at the very end are the words (at least in my edition) "Fine - Laus Deo" (The end -- praise be to God"), another sign that this may be one of the culminating accomplishments for Haydn, at least in his piano works.

    3. I tried to be more careful about the inter-section breaks in this, so hopefully Rainer won't be as disappointed about that :D

    Well anyway, not to go on too long (always seems to happen when I'm writing about one of my favorite musical works). This completes my second of three Haydn discs I've been working on, but for now this will probably be the last Haydn (whew, you're probably saying :p ) and last thing in general I submit for a little while as I'm start on a new, more varied program to work up.


    Thanks much for listening,

    Joe


    Haydn - Andante with Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII/6 (15:52)
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Don't tell me you're actually going to play something different now ? :p

    Well played as always. Nothing much to pick on, except your ingrained habit of rushing your dotted rhytms, which gives the music a slight limp.
    Happens for instance, quite prominently, at 14:05 and 14:07 but in many places elsewhere. The dreaded trills were not too bad.

    I don't find Haydn's variations to be as imaginative and varied as those by Mozart and Beethoven. In fact I find this famous set a bit stodgy (which I'd never say about his Sonatas). Not sure how much of this could be blamed on the performance. Perhaps a little, I could imagine a more playful and sparkling approach. Also I find Haydn's theme here not the most appealing. All very personal of course.
     
  3. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Chris,

    Thanks much for listening and for your comments. Pity that you don't like the music more. It could be that you're expecting to hear something that isn't there. Much Haydn is of course playful or sparkling, but this piece IMO exhibits a much deeper vision and tragedy than almost anything else Haydn wrote. In fact, it seems odd to me to describe almost anything that has been written in the minor mode as playful or sparkling. But as you say, to each his own.

    Joe
     
  4. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Hi Joe,
    Fine job. I have not played this work, but do recognize it as one of his fine achievments. For me, my reservation of the work is that its all just too "andante." Hows that for shallow? Anyway it is a fine and expected contribution to your Haydn Collected Piano Solo Works in progress. BTW, the edition you are using is the one I recognize to be the best available and authoritative, that edited by Christa Landon. I have the same for the sonatas (only two of which I have performed: the great C major No 60 (Hob XVII?/50) and another that I can't actually remember at the moment (it was only for a seminar in classicism)). Continued success to you and thanks for enriching our Haydn Library!
    Eddy
     
  5. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Eddy,

    Thanks for listening.

    Well I didn't necessarily mean that I thought Chris's thinking it should be "playful and sparkling" is "shallow," I just meant that I couldn't really see it like that because it seems to miss the point of what Haydn was trying to do with this particular one of his pieces, which I see as alternately a lament in the minore and noble and stately in the majore.

    Anyway, I can see your point, at least somewhat, regarding the tempo. One thing I debated about is whether to do all the repeats. Many people don't in variations, and I often wouldn't, but I basically wanted to fill out more of the second CD I'm doing compared with the others. So I am guessing that its length could be contributing to your perception of "too much Andante."

    Nice. The first movement of that sonata might be my favorite single piece of Haydn, although I'm not as fond of the other two movements. I actually already have recorded that on the site, but will come back and redo when I (hopefully) record my final volume 3 later in the year.

    Thanks. I much appreciate your continually taking time to listen to and comment on my recordings.

    Joe
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This set is now live.
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Forgot to add - thanks for doing the tags right. For once I did not have to change anything at all. This helps :)
    And all the nagging helps too because people are starting to get the hang.
     
  8. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well I can see it would be a lot of grunt work for you guys to do this for every submission when it's perfectly easy for us to do them ourselves. So I agree it's probably good to keep up the nagging. And the good news is that it only took me about 5 or so times to catch on :D
     
  9. MarkieUK

    MarkieUK Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is very nicely played. I like all of your Haydn and your recordings are always high quality.

    However, with these variations, I think you are playing in slightly too a staid manner. As this is some of the most emotionally charged and pathos-laden keyboard music that Haydn wrote, I think you could introduce a small of rubato in places, and a bit more expressive contrast would help too. I also think your dotted rhythms are too sharp and sound a bit strange.

    I still really enjoyed listening to this, particularly as it's one of my favourite pieces.

    Mark
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I always knew you would. You're a bright guy :D
     
  11. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    MarkieUK,

    Thanks very much for listening and for your comments.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  12. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Sorry for not getting around to commenting sooner on this. I must admit that, like Chris, I'm not a huge fan of these variations either, though to be sure you play them so beautifully that I may well give them another chance to change my opinion, which is basically that this is Haydn trying to be serious, and it doesn't really become him, because from him we tend to expect light hearted subtlety and wit. This dark material seems a bit out of character.

    Thank you again for your conscious effort to omit inter-section gaps.

    This "Fine Laus Deo" stuff one does tend to come across with Haydn from time to time, I think I've seen it in orchestral parts too. An irreverent (and typically Haydnesque) interpretation of those words might be "thank God it's over". :)

    I did find a score on line, and would really only mention one small point. In the ending, in fact in the 10th bar from the end, the online edition shows three printed fermata symbols. There are right-way-up fermatas on the LH first beat and on the RH second (8th-note) beat, a high E-natural, and an upside-down fermata under the RH first beat (a lower E-natural). I think this means the 3 symbols all refer to the same actual pause, and this comes on the 2nd beat. I think the fact that one of the symbols is printed upside down strictly means that it refers only to the lower note in the RH. It means the duration of that quarter-note is to be stretched by the same amount as that of the LH notes and of the RH high E. It does not mean that the first of the four RH 32nd notes should be lengthened, which you do. Admittedly you don't do it by much (but enough for me to notice!), because it almost seems as though you yourself are even convinced it's right. I would urge you here to heed your doubting inner voice.
     
  13. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    In general, I'm not that partial to music from the classical period, but I do think this piece is the crowning glory of keyboard music from that era. I like this performance: catches the pathos of the minor key theme, fairly introverted and not overblown. The pesky trills were a success, I thought! Thanks for posting this; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
     
  14. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks. I'm glad you're keeping an open mind to the work even though it is not your favorite among Haydn's oeuvre. Whether it becomes him or not is an interesting topic of discussion. I would argue that he wasn't "trying to be" serious but was so. Evidently, he had written the piece in response to the death of a good female friend of his (at least according to the bio on PS; I hadn't known this before). Also, I would point to the fact that there are moments of intense tragedy in many of the slow movements in his sonatas (for instance, the Adagio of the D Major Hob. XVI/33, which I also have recorded).

    But anyway, thanks again. I'm flattered that my performance might at least have a chance of convincing you :)

    Joe
     
  15. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Andrew. I'm glad that my performance came across to you. While there may be other "crowning glories" from that pre-Beethoven period, such as the Mozart B Minor Adagio and late B-flat Major sonata, or portions of the the other two late Haydn sonatas I mentioned above, this is certainly one of my favorite pieces from that era as well. And it may well be the most romantic, even compared with those others.

    Thanks again for listening,

    Joe
     
  16. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Also very good! Excellent playing.
     
  17. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Joe,

    You bring out an almost Schumannesque quality in the opening theme. It is very beautiful. Perhaps it is a combination of tenderness, dotted rhythms and drama from the sudden shifts in the dynamics.

    The first variation is very beautiful with those exclaimations of ascending/descending arpeggio like figures. The spirit is evocative of nature's awakening in the Spring, full of poetry. Your left hand phrasing and textures are very well articulated. Your trills are expressive and the dynamics are excellent. You allow the listeners ear to distinguish the priorities.

    The minor variation reminds me of Schumann once again. I agree with your assessment. It truly is a masterpiece, and in my opinion, is ahead of it's time in some ways.

    Your broken octaves and broken chords hold the drama. Everything in terms of motifs is in perspective.


    The next variation is full of the spirit it needs to have, and presents an almost tumbling
    impression of sophisticated frolic, with the chromaticism joyfully presented. This is very classical in style.

    The reprise of the opening theme followed by the cadenza is convincing and well presented.
    I hear Schumannesque passages and transitions so beautifully played. The pauses are effective as is your pedaling.

    It is all well within the bounds of Haydn and yet seems so romantic in style at the same time. You play this piece with great earnestness and the right amount of drama without it sounding sentimental.

    I wish I had the score so I could pin down more of my impressions. However, listening was just a great pleasure.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful performance.

    - Kaila
     
  18. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Kaila,

    Thank you for your compliments and for your perceptive remarks about the music.

    Interesting. I hadn't thought of Schumann but I think that's certainly an apt analogy for the theme with its elements of brooding and introversion.

    Thanks and I'm glad that aspect came across to you, since it is indeed what I strive for: to be expressive without being mawkish.

    Again, thanks very much for listening and for your kind words,

    Joe
     
  19. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Robert,

    Thanks for listening and for your praise (also on the C major).

    Joe
     
  20. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Joe,

    You are most welcome. You did a great job. I hope you return to this piece again and again.

    I neve realized how profound Haydn can be. I loved playing his D major concerto.
    The craftsmanship was so elegant and concise and pleasant all at the same time.
    You made me see a different side of Haydn which is intangibly and mysteriously abstract
    and yet "right there" so to speak.

    Thank you so much!
    - Kaila
     

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