Franz Joseph Haydn

String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Op. 77/1, H. 3/81

    Description by John Keillor

    The Op. 77 string quartets of Haydn were begun in 1799, at the very end of his career. Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian Lobkowitz commissioned six quartets, but the surviving two were the only ones the elderly master managed to complete; he was at the end of his creative tether, which made his twilight years frustrating for their artistic silence. Haydn probably knew this was coming, taking on the project with reluctance after writing The Creation, an act that exhausted him. However, whatever dark circumstances surrounded the commission, the Op. 77, No. 1 begins with a pastoral burst of delighted energy. Haydn was known for being excellent company and his music reflected his positive outlook throughout his career. Beginning with a monothematic sonata movement, one might imagine this to be the work of a composer at the apex of his abilities. The expressive energy is clear and bright, and no listener, however casual, could suspect that the players could be having anything other than a splendid time performing this impressively idiomatic and summery material. Following with an adagio that is contemplative but never dour, the contrast of these movements maintains a high level of interest without breaking the overall mood that swings back into high gear with the third, menuetto: presto-trio, movement. This is in the scherzo style, exploding with vigor that is tightly wound without sounding agitated. Such a departure from the traditional, and slower, minuet-trio was new for the music scene at the time, proving the composer was not resting on his laurels, in spite of his catalog being already rife with innovations. It is fair to say that he shaped much of the classical music style of the late eighteenth century single-handedly over the course of his long career and still he managed to offer new ideas that would stick with composers such as Beethoven, who would never fully rid his sound of Haydn's decisive influence. The Op. 77, No. 1 concludes with a presto finale that allows the listener's spirit to soar. Anyone acquainted with the endless list of contributions this musician offered his field cannot help but be astonished. Few people have given art so much with such a loving and skilled delivery. The Op. 77, No. 1 is a powerful testament for the sublime capabilities existing inside individuals.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Adagio
    3. Menuet. Presto & Trio
    4. Finale. Presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Ambronay AMY 310
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295869182
    2017 Alpha 335
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795982
    2016 Claudio 4627
    2016 Naxos 8573701
    2016 Naxos 8578326-27
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646123452
    2014 MDG / MDG Gold MDGCD 3071860
    2014 Dynamic CDS 7698
    2014 Tacet TACET 191BDA
    2014 Music & Arts MACD 1281
    2013 2L 2L 091SACD
    2012 Decca
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 Naïve E 8935
    2011 Divox CDX25230
    2010 Stradivarius 33849
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4778116
    2009 Arcana 419
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93889
    2009 Naïve 8924
    2009 Accent 24220
    2009 Channel Classics 28209
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93807
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 2961823
    2008 Naxos 8502400
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93138
    2006 Fleurs de Lys 23075
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Testament 1372
    2004 Harmonia Mundi 901823
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474730
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471762
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon
    2001 Camerata Records 28CM579
    2001 Praga 250157
    2000 Philips 464 650-2PX21
    2000 Naïve 8800
    2000 Doron Music 3031
    1999 Preiser Records 90901
    1998 Hungaroton 41001
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 62731
    1997 London 455261
    1995 Naxos 553146
    1994 Harmonia Mundi 1903001
    1993 Nimbus 5312
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32071
    1989 Astree 8799
    1987 Hungaroton 11776
    Hyperion 66348
    Fono Enterprise 99370
    ASV / ASV Gold 4010
    Arsis 98047
    Lyrinx 101
    Analekta 29552
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi / DHM Editio Classica 77106
    Deutsche Grammophon 471327
    Brilliant Classics 93807/3