Franz Joseph Haydn

String Quartet No. 27 in D major, Op. 20/4, H. 3/34

    Description by James Leonard

    Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) composed his String Quartets (6) published as his Op. 20 in 1772. Although the published edition places the String Quartet in D major for two violins, viola and cello, H. 3/34, as fourth, from the internal evidence it seems likely that the String Quartet D major was in fact composed last. Part of the reason is the naming of the parts in the autograph (the cello part is marked Violoncello and not Basso). Part of the reason is the order of the movement (with the Menuetto third as in most of Haydn's later quartets and not second as in his early quartets). Part of the reason is the words Haydn chose to write at the end of the score ("Gloria in Excelsis Deo," connoting gratitude, and not his standard "Fine Laus Deo," connoting completion).

    But the largest part of the reason is the forward-looking nature of the music. The opening Allegro di molto in triple time is built of motives and not melodies and each motive is developed in a tightly controlled and entirely compelling manner. The following Un poco adagio e affetuoso in duple time and the tonic minor is a deeply affecting set of variations upon an 18-bar original theme with three variations, a reprise, and a fantastic coda of 32 bars. The following Menuetto is a form of concert gypsy music with the theme presumably taken from a gypsy original. The closing Finale marked Presto e scherzando in common time is even more markedly gypsy-like in origins and effect. Haydn handles the mixtures of styles and moods seamlessly, a brilliant example of his ability to create unity even in the diversity that marked his later music.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro di molto
    2. Un poco adagio e affettuoso
    3. Menuet alla Zingarese & Trio
    4. Presto e scherzando

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Gramola 99107
    2014 Music & Arts MACD 1281
    2012 Warner Classics 2564657207
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Decca
    2011 Hyperion CDA 67877
    2011 MDG MDG 30717062
    2010 Bridge 9326
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93889
    2009 Naïve 8923
    2009 Channel Classics 28209
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93545
    2008 CPO 777173
    2008 Naxos 8502400
    2007 Sanctuary 407
    2006 Arcana 413
    2006 Challenge Records 72164
    2005 Cascavelle 1026
    2002 Classica d'Oro 4011
    2001 Hungaroton 32008
    2000 Astree 8802
    2000 Philips 464 650-2PX21
    2000 Doron Music 3031
    1999 ASV 236
    1999 Preiser Records 90901
    1998 ASV 1027
    1998 Hungaroton 41001
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 62954
    1997 London 455261
    1996 Vox Box 5113
    1996 Seraphim UK 69116
    1995 Orfeo 313201
    1995 ASV 6147
    1994 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1994 Naxos 550702
    1993 Hungaroton 11332-33
    1993 Naxos 8550702
    1993 Astree 8784
    1992 Hyperion 66622
    1990 Astree 8786
    Carducci Classics
    Fono Enterprise 99380
    Sony Music Distribution 53638
    Sony Music Distribution 53639
    Sony Music Distribution 53637
    Sony Music Distribution 53636
    Hungaroton 11332