[Pt. V Proj.2] – The Classical Era- Project 2- String Quartets ~ Exercise 5.4 – Haydn’s Emperor- second movement (the theme and variations)- summary of the different textures
[Pt. V Proj.2] ~ Exercise 5.4 – Haydn’s Emperor- second movement (the theme and variations)- summary of the different textures. Continuing our focus on Haydn’s Emperor, turn to the second movement, the theme and variations. Listen to this movement again, reading along with the score. In your learning log write down a summary of the different textures Haydn employs in the Theme and the four variations. Consider each in overview to begin with, and then go into some detail of passages which stand out to you. Incorporate musical examples to bring things to life. How does Haydn’s use here compare to that in the first movement?
The main/opening theme of the first section is presented as a melody with harmonic accompaniment (see page 150 below). In the 1st variation there is a two part counterpoint texture, with the theme carried in one part and a busy and harmonic contrapuntal part accompanying it (see bottom of page 150 below). The 2nd variation has the theme accompanied by 2 contrapuntal melodies and a harmony doubling a 3rd higher and also the occasional pedal note from the 4th instrument (see page 153 and 154 below). Variation III comes with 4 part counterpoint and Variation IV is a restatement of the opening theme with added complexity and counterpoint as the variation progresses (see page 156 below).
The main theme is in itself beautiful and very lyrical with perfect voice leading (see beginning of page 150 below in blue). The first variation has a very different flavour because of the change in texture to two contrapuntal lines, violins only (see bottom of page 150 below), with the second violin taking the theme.
The second variation is unusual in the the cello which takes the theme plays in such a high register, reaching higher than the viola and sometimes even the 2nd violin (see page 153 below in blue).
Variation III see the viola take the melody, again soaring beautifully at the highest reach of its register (see page 154 below in blue).
The final variation is a restatement of the first theme which builds and builds both harmonically, contrapuntally and in terms of register climaxing transposed and octave higher until dying down in very hushed tones (see beginning of page 156 below in blue).
Overall this movement uses the quartet very differently to the first although some of the same elements are used. The structure here is strophic rather than sonata and therefore there is not much modulation as such, barring the octave leap in the final climax. The harmonic interest comes from the highly contrapuntal nature of the writing and the flavour is determined by the different instruments playing the theme, in different registers. It is this blend of registers and the nuances between them which makes it such a rich tapestry of sound and the key emotional ingredient of the movement. The main theme itself is also beautifully and lyrically crafted and really stands out as a fully fledged and very well written melody, compared to the shorter and slightly more generic themes/motifs of the first movement.