Can Haydn fit in here – fancy, cerebral, delicately attractive chamber music without words glowing with specific period presence, lacking the basic sense of beat, crude catchiness and volume that music usually requires to survive in such an abrasive setting?Apart from the mischaracterization of the music of Haydn as "lacking the basic sense of beat"(!!), yes, one might think that the music of Queen would seem more appropriate. The article says that Haydn works really well, due to the charming presentation of the musicians. The problem I have with the article is that the writer, while disparaging "strained, ugly attempts to make classical music cool, accessible, hip, fashionable" engages in a somewhat embarrassing one himself. He says of this kind of presentation:
It is not frozen inside a concert hall and played as if to breathe in response is an outrage, and to have any sort of audible emotional reaction a social embarrassment.What is embarrassing about this is that the implication is that all conventional string quartet concerts, such as the ones at Wigmore Hall, for example, are "frozen". Again, I get the feeling that some of the people who seem to be supporters of classical music are actually our worst enemies! Mr. Morley is as much as saying that all concerts of string quartets by Haydn would be better in the pub.
Another problem I have with articles like these is that they are mere propaganda. This is not a news article that tries to report what happened when these musicians took Haydn on a tour of pubs. Were that the case we might have heard that halfway through op. 33 no. 2, a group of yahoos stumbled in and shouted out, "wat the fook kinda music is dis?" Actually, at no point in the article does Mr. Morley even mention what pieces by Haydn were played.
I would have appreciated an objective account of exactly how well the tour actually went. Instead we have a puff piece saying how wonderful the whole idea was and how wonderfully the musicians brought it off. No indication of how it was actually received, how many people turned up and so on.
Obviously we need to hear a Haydn string quartet now. Here is Op. 33, No. 1 in B minor: