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Mozart: String Quartets Nos. 21 - 23 ('Prussian'), K. 575, 589, 590

Wolfgang A. Mozart , Emerson String Quartet Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Mozart: String Quartets Nos. 21 - 23 ('Prussian'), K. 575, 589, 590 + Mozart: String Quartets K. 465 "Dissonance", K. 458 "The Hunt", K. 421 + Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Borodin: Quartets
Price for all three: $33.07

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Product Details

  • Performer: Emerson String Quartet
  • Composer: Wolfgang A. Mozart
  • Audio CD (October 18, 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classics
  • ASIN: B0054MAPQI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,116 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. String Quartet No. 21 in D major ('Prussian 1'), K. 575: 1. Allegretto
2. String Quartet No. 21 in D major ('Prussian 1'), K. 575: 2. Andante
3. String Quartet No. 21 in D major ('Prussian 1'), K. 575: 3. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
4. String Quartet No. 21 in D major ('Prussian 1'), K. 575: 4. Allegretto
5. String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major ('Prussian 2'), K. 589: 1. Allegro
6. String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major ('Prussian 2'), K. 589: 2. Larghetto
7. String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major ('Prussian 2'), K. 589: 3. Menuetto. Moderato - Trio
8. String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major ('Prussian 2'), K. 589: 4. Allegro assai
9. String Quartet No. 23 in F major ('Prussian 3'), K. 590: 1. Allegro moderato
10. String Quartet No. 23 in F major ('Prussian 3'), K. 590: 2. Andante
11. String Quartet No. 23 in F major ('Prussian 3'), K. 590: 3. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
12. String Quartet No. 23 in F major ('Prussian 3'), K. 590: 4. Allegro

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultra-clean and efficient, but somehow it works October 25, 2011
Format:Audio CD
The Emesons have mostly avoided Mozart's string quartets in their long career on DG (one wonders why they switched labels?), but the few that they recorded sound like Harnoncourt when he conducts Mozart symphonies - there's a steely eye, sharp attack, and avoidance of sentiment - this is a charm-free zone. I expected the same thing here in their new set of the "King of Prussia" quartets. By comparison to mellower European standards, the Americans prefer to let light in between the notes rather than blending into a smooth flow, but the Emersons seem more relaxed - for them, that is. There's still no rubato and barely a smile.

With those facts in evidence, I expected to feel restless and irritated, ready to rush back to the echt Viennese style of the Alban Berg Quartet. But a change-up can clear your ears, and I think that happens here. Aided by very realistic, close-up recorded sound, the Emersons succeed in wiping the slate clean, making you hear the notes in perfect proportion and balance, with an emphasis on forward motion and clarity of line. They applied much the same approach to Beethoven, with mixed results since a great sacrifice was made in depth of interpretation. Mozart is more classical and regular in form compared to Beethoven, however, and although the lack of charm isn't a positive, these aren't metaphysical works in a far-reaching Romantic sense. World-class playing counts for a lot.

I stick by the ABQ as incomparable Mozart players, but this new Emerson set gave me a new and rewarding perspective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast and Unreflective November 29, 2013
Format:Audio CD
Again, it is ever so dangerous to link any of Mozart's compositions with the biographical circumstances of his life. Even so, his Prussian Quartets were written at a time of immense emotional and financial pressure; as a project, it was never finished per se: Mozart grimly sold off the trio to bring in some cash. Just as Pliny the Elder described Tiberius as the "saddest of men", to my mind the Prussian Quartets are Mozart at his most world-weary and tristful. As Einstein rightly observed, the Andante of K 590 is "one of the most sensitive movements in . . . chamber music, it seems to mingle the bliss and sorrow of a farewell to life. How beautiful life has been! How sad! How brief!" In order to give vent to this masterpiece, the Brandis Quartet takes 8'33"; the Chilingirian Quartet surveys it in 8'20". The Emerson Quartet rips through it unfeelingly in 7'28".

To my mind, this is symptomatic of the set's weakness. The Emerson Quartet plays with utmost virtuosity; where Mozart seemingly demands that alone, they are listenable in the extreme (say, the finales of K 575 & K 590). But the boys grapple but fitfully with the "chill" of the Prussians - as such, there is a failure to recognise that these quartets form a tundra-like ecosystem of their own and one that is distinguishable from the earlier `Haydn' Quartets and the Hoffmeister (K 499). Much of this is attributable to their fast tempi. Three other examples come to mind - in each instance, the Chilingirians offer a contrast:

1. the Emersons plays the opening of K 575 in a straightforward fashion; ever so exquisitely, the Chilingirians imbue it with tentativeness: to create is to suffer.

2.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emerson doing Mozart justice January 6, 2013
Format:Audio CD
Emerson is always blamed for being "too perfect" and flat emotionally. This is simply not true here; they use their powers of sublime technicality as a tool to enlighten the perfection of the music. These are legendary quartets in the history of string quartets done by a legendary quartet. I relate very much with Beethoven when he accounts himself as one of the greatest admirers of Mozart in history and this is of pristinely Mozartian quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harmony to the utmost ~ November 13, 2012
Format:Audio CD
The Emerson quartet was (is) very diverse, but these guys could play some Mozart for sure! I love chamber music and string quartets are among my favorite. I love the Amadeus Quartet among others, but this disc excels for both the selection and quality of recording.

The performance is almost too pristine. The musicians are all so very talented that it seems this is the exact interpretation from the sheet music with very little personality of the performers. The nice thing is that this is an almost clinical example of these quartets. Rather than hearing a too expressive piece (looking at you Itzahk!) instead you hear the music as perfectly as can be, probably as close as it is to hearing it in the late 1700s.

Love or hate the style, the performance is still magical in a very crisp and clean manner. I know that the Emerson can get some passion into their performances, but perhaps this was their interpretation of Mozart's score? One will never be sure. But I am sure that this is an enjoyable collection of three excellent quartets. The clarity of the recording is also excellent and Sony does their normal bang up job. Very rarely does one hear big intakes of breath or sharpness from the strings. Sadly, a collection of Mozart "Haydn" quartets was dulled due to a LOT of heavy breathing that was noticeable on the CDs. Gladly none of that here.

I recommend this collection, but if you're looking for something with more passion then this might not be the disc for you. But check out the Emerson quartet performing a few MUCH more emotional quartets of Mozart: Mozart: String Quartets K. 465 "Dissonance", K. 458 "The Hunt", K. 421.
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