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 / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Audite
    AUD 21456
    2018
    Ambronay
    AMY 310
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295869182
    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
    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
    Fono Enterprise
    99370
    ASV / ASV Gold
    4010
    Hyperion
    66348
    Arsis
    98047
    Lyrinx
    101
    Analekta
    29552
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi / DHM Editio Classica
    77106
    Deutsche Grammophon
    471327
    Brilliant Classics
    93807/3