“THE FINE BALANCE BETWEEN UNITY AND INFINITE VARIETY”: BEAUTIFUL EDITION OF HAYDN’S STRING QUARTETS
HAYDN, Joseph. Collection complette des Quatuors D’Haydn. Paris: Pleyel, . Four volumes. Folio, contemporary half calf, marbled boards. $4500.
Second collected (“Nouvelle”) edition of Haydn’s complete string quartets, in handsome contemporary calf.
Haydn won his first fame with his string quartets, and continued to return to the form throughout his life. By the end of his life he was regarded as the greatest composer in this medium. “Haydn achieved in his op. 33 quartets, written as he declared ‘in a new and special way,’ a clarity of structure and balance of texture of which he rarely lost sight in later works… In the late 1780s Haydn finally returned to quartet composition on a more regular basis… The fine balance between unity and infinite variety is one of the most typical features of Haydn’s late quartets… The two series of ‘Tost’ Quartets (opp. 54-5 and op. 64) carry the Classical quartet to a peak. They reveal a Haydn free of official restraints and obligations, composing simply con amore… In op. 76 a new experimentalism appears, with features anticipating Beethoven” (New Grove, 18: 278; 8: 355). Regarding Pleyel’s editions of the string quartets, Haydn wrote: “I am much obliged to you for the exceptionally beautiful edition of the Quartets… because of their beautiful engravings, the paper—and the fact that they are so correct—as well as their general appearance, you will be remembered for them forever” (Robbins Landon, 238). With engraved frontispiece portrait, title pages and fully engraved music text. Hirsch III, 274. ontemporary bookseller stamps.
Occasional light foxing; a few small marginal tears and paper repairs. A very handsome copy of this beautiful edition.