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Discussion On The Unusual Form Of The Finale Of Haydn's Op.54, No.2.

2253 words - 9 pages

Discussion On The Unusual Form Of the Finale Of Haydn's Op.54, no.2The three String Quartets that make up Haydn's Op.54 were probably written for the virtuoso violonist Johann Tost , and are therefore widely known as the "Tost Quartets." A feature common to all three of the quartets is the difficult writing of the first violin part.A specific debate of concern arises when we look at the finale of the C Major Quartet, No. 2 of Op.54. It appears to be unusual in all senses: it closes and opens with an adagio (which still can be heard as an introduction at the beginning), has a very "curious" key change scheme , and leads the listener through a "hard-to-predict" series of events metrically as well as key-wise: scattered grand pauses and fermatas appear as connectors in the sub-movements . However, it still serves in its unique way of formal construction, towards a "successful" or a "satisfying" conclusion of the quartet. Or does it?The purpose of the discussion in this paper is to: 1) shed a light on the relationship between the first, second and third movements and the finale through a formal examination of the movement and explain how "relevant" a closer it is for the whole quartet;2) give an objective account of the "typical" finales we have encountered in the course so far, and compare and contrast the expectations from a "Haydn" finale with what we are presented with in Op.54;3) provide a subjective view of how this "atypical" conclusion can/cannot work from a modern listener's perspective.General Form and Characteristics Relating to FinaleSpecifically, as the third of the seven "great" Quartets that Haydn wrote in the key of C, this quartet follows a quite unique route : following a regular sonata form first movement, it has a slow second movement, an adagio-fantasy in C minor with improvisatory allusions and passages which connects directly to the minuet-trio (in C major and C minor respectively).The first two movements start with a downbeat gesture, whereas the last two have a characteristic upbeat gestures as a practical "dance-requirement" for the Menuet, Trio, and maybe same can be claimed for the "playful" Presto-but the upbeat figure for the conclusive adagio is a very "serious" statement reinforcing the section's role as a "closer" from a practical listening point of view. This is important since one has expectations from a "closer" and a typical role assigned to an upbeat motive could be to signify and bring out a phrase as a dance, as well as give it an "assertive" character, which I believe is the case here.Following another related loose thread that I will try to tie up, let us look at at the general phrase structure of the movements and how they could relate to the finale. From the opening, the asymmetrical five-bar phrase (3+2) followed by a G.P. that will be later filled by an echoing motif in the recap (126, followed by the filler arpeggiating echo motif in 131) gives signs for unexpected things to happen. Here are two obvious...

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