Haydn Quartet edition preferences

February 10, 2018, 9:00 AM · I’ve noticed some major differences in cadences and order of movements in some of the more commonly played Haydn quartets in various recordings. I have all 4 volumes of the Peters edition. Anybody have any thoughts on other editions?

Replies (10)

February 10, 2018, 9:27 AM · I'll be watching this thread as I'm ready to make an investment in the Haydn Quartets and I want a good edition. Yes I know you can get them on IMSLP, but I want high-quality bound editions.
February 10, 2018, 9:47 AM · The new Urtext Peters edition is pretty standard - pretty sure that's what Tokyo quartet preferred. I have some in Henle also and I like the foldout pages those editions have to help with page turns; not sure if that's in other editions.
Edited: February 10, 2018, 10:18 AM · I grew up on the Schirmer edition because it was already in the house. I like the fingering hints, and the bowing (phrasing indications). But, most especially I am used to and prefer the note spacing of Schirmer editions and any that are similar for sight reading (i.e., Peters, some International).

In this modern age of ubiquitous copying machines one can add page foldouts and flippable cutouts at will.

February 10, 2018, 12:37 PM · Urtext Peters edition. They are used at Banff Interational String Quartet Competition jam sessions. I wouldn't be surprised if other professional or semiprofessional chamber workshops treat Peters as standard edition.
February 10, 2018, 1:31 PM · I find, once again, that I agree with Andrew about the readability of Schirmer editions. I grew up with them and I'm just used to reading them. I wonder what they recommend at Bennington?
Edited: February 11, 2018, 4:48 AM · Urtext editions attempt to reproduce exactly what Haydn wrote but are probably not exactly what he heard, or expected to hear. First violin semi- and semidemiquaver (OK, 16th and 32nd note) passages in particular often invite (demand?) a mixture of separate and slurred articulation that isn't indicated in the original. I'm thinking for example of the Andante o Piu Tosto Allegretto movement of the Fifths Op76 no2. One of the great joys of these pieces is how they don't precisely specify the details of performance, but leave a lot to the players' discretion.
February 11, 2018, 7:18 AM · Steve that's one way to look at it. The other perspective is that it's nice to look at an edition where presumably someone with skill, experience, and taste has made some of those decisions already. One can always choose to follow their recommendations ... or not.
February 11, 2018, 8:44 AM · I'm with you Paul. Perhaps that explains my general dislike of Urtext editions. Since so much of my playing is sight reading, I don't study a score except in the passing seconds while playing.
February 11, 2018, 8:49 AM · Modern editions - the new Peters edition is probably the most up to date; however much more interesting and more revelatory is to play of original 18th Century editions of the time. So much more details in articulation and phrasing that is deleted by modern editors in order to make the score more unanimous. Much more individuality with the instruments can be reached with the older parts.
Edited: February 11, 2018, 3:19 PM · If you're just sight-reading and having fun, the old Peters and Schirmer (and others) contain fingerings which can be helpful.

If you're interested in what Haydn actually wrote, then of course urtext is essential, but urtext generally lacks fingerings.

Another thing to consider is that the newest Henle and Peters urtext sometimes have fold-outs to help you avoid impossible page turns. And the editing is very conscientious so it's always good to support that.

The old Peters and Schirmer editions usually date from the late 19th and early 20th century and were edited based on the way people played Haydn at that time. They do not reflect current practice or early classical practice.

Just one example -- Peters will tend to finger violins into higher positions/lower strings to give you a more lush romantic sound, but modern Haydn playing places more emphasis on clarity, therefore more 1st position and even open strings.

But still, if you're just reading for fun, I'd get the older Peters editions because the fingerings can give you a leg up (particularly if you're playing 1st violin, which can be quite difficult for Haydn).

Just fyi, you can download an awful lot of the old Peters and Schirmer on IMSLP, you don't have to pay for them because the copyright has long expired. Kalmus editions offer super-cheap facsimile reprints of out-of-copyright Peters and Schirmer (the joke is Kalmus always adds in a few mistakes just to make the edition their own -- anyway you get what you pay for)


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