I’m going to jump to the “Haydn” string quartets, which begin with Mozart’s 14th. These should theoretically be a much more mature set of works compared to his earlier “Milanese” quartets since he was ten years older. Let’s find out!
I’m listening to the Hagen Quartet again.
Not the same recording, but it’s the same piece and group.
String Quartet no. 14 in G, K. 387
1. Allegro vivace assai
- Immediately more interesting than the second string quartet.
- Balance between players is much better.
- Just listen to the sixteenth note passages, where players get added to each subsequent phrase.
- Other players besides first violin also get more solo time.
- Lots of fun with dynamics.
- Generous use of silences throughout.
- Even the pulsing section is more exciting through use of dynamics and some syncopation.
- There are funny little chromatic phrases that seem to trail off into silence. Cool effect.
- Little shuffle cadences in piano are delightful.
- Lots of playing with chromaticism. Gives it a kind of drunk-but-fun feeling.
- Each beat in some measures gets a different dynamic marking.
- Much more dramatic sounding Trio section. In minor. Sharper accents.
- Very spooky effect near end with some sustained tones in lower voices, while first violin leaps downward.
3. Andante cantabile
- Cantabile is right. There are some very song-like moments.
- Lots of accompaniment variety.
- As an opera singer who tends to be involved in “big” productions, this kind of movement makes me really appreciate chamber music. It feels so intimate. The quiet parts are very quiet. The players are afforded so much flexibility to communicate their ideas. And Mozart has written a music that truly allows this.
4. Molto allegro
- Don’t let the first notes fool you about the tempo. Those are whole notes.
- Lots of imitative entrances. Not quite a fugue, but they kind of toy at it.
- Fairly virtuosic.
- Each instrument gets its time to shine.
- Again, a lot of variety here. The tempo and the staggered entrances are really the unifying elements as far as I can tell.
- Lots of chromaticism again.
- Love the ending. After the fireworks, it just kind of fades away.
I believe that a lot of the talk about Mozart often revolves around the “story” of him: namely, his prodigious musical gifts. But in jumping from yesterday’s second string quartet to this, I am reminded that above all, people change. People grow if they keep applying themselves to something. 16 year old Mozart did not write string quartets as well as 26 year old Mozart did. It’s night and day. But to get there he had to write twelve other string quartets, in addition to the wealth of other genres he composed.
It’s funny that one of my chief criticisms yesterday was the fairly banal accompaniment. It was a lot of “chunk chunk chunk chunk”, while in the 14th he seemed to try and show off how many ways he could write an accompaniment. While listening, it seemed he would change it up every four to eight bars and move on to something else.
Additionally, this feels like a piece for four musicians of equal caliber. Rather than just a vehicle for the first violinist, this feels more like a swirling mass of music where each player tells his/her own story.
Anyway, that was exciting. I think I’ll linger with the string quartets for a few days. I don’t have enough chamber music in my life.
Until next time.