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Mozart's String Quintets and Quartets


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Initial post: Feb 19, 2013 12:47:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 12:55:29 PM PST
Mandryka says:
I'm aiming to hear as many interesting performances as I can.

As far as the quintets are concerned, some are old friends like Griller and Grumiaux and The Budapest Quartet, which I've known and loved since I was a kid. But this time round my greatest pleasure has come from two which I'd passed over before - Orlando and Kuijken.

Kuijken is especially pleasing because it's one of the very few period performances of post-baroque music which really has new things to say, through being informed. I was less impressed by his CDs of Mozart quartets, but I plan to revisit.

And talking of quartets, my biggest discovery recently has been the Ebene CD, which is exactly what I want from Mozart. The thing that I've startet to value most in Mozart is the sense of hearing each line of the music equally. The quartets played in a way which really brings out the points where the music clashes harmonically, or where one line holds back another or pushes another forward.

If you know of any interesting performances, old or new, let me know. i'm keen to hear what people have made of this music.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 1:22:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2013 5:53:33 AM PST
While I've found numerous recordings that I am satisfied with in regards to the quartets (Chilingirian, Alban Berg, Leipzig, Smetana, Orlando, & Melos Stuggart Quartets--on modern instruments, & Quatour Mosaiques on period instruments), the 6 Quintets have proved more elusive.

I agree about the Orlando Quartet & Nobuko Imai for the quintets, but haven't heard the Kuijkens. Most recently, I've been listening to Hausmusik's period performances of 4 of the 6 Quintets: Mozart: String Quintet in D, K. 593; in E flat, K. 614, and String Quintets--K. 515 & 516?? (also available together in a Virgin box set: Mozart: String Quintets, Nos. 3-6, K.515, K.516, K.593 & K.614). They are very good, and would be my first choice in this music (though I haven't heard L'Archibudelli). Another fine period recording is the one by Chiara Banchini & Ensemble 415 of K. 515 & 516: Mozart: String Quintets:Ensemble 415: K 515 & K 516.

On modern instruments, I've been listening to the Chilingirian Quartet's recent series, which is incomplete as far as I know, and unfortunately may stay that way, as I hear the group is calling it quits. The Melos Stuggart set on DG is good too, as is the classic Grumiaux set already mentioned. Another excellent set is from Josef Suk & the Smetana Quartet on Denon, although it may need a remastering, given that the CDs were last issued in the 1980s I believe.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 1:38:11 PM PST
The Suk/Smetana recordings are excellent, and remain one of my favorites (along with the Griller and Melos sets) - they were so well done the first time around by Denon that they hardly need remastering. In my experience, if remasterings are a significant improvement, it's because the company screwed it up the first time.

There are a number of excellent recordings of the two best quintets, K515 and K516, including the Artis Quartet Mozart: String Quintets, Nos. 3 & 4 and the HIP L'Archibudelli Mozart: String Quintets in C Major K. 515 & in g minor K. 516. I haven't heard the recording by the Orlando Quartet, but I probably should, since I've liked them in everything else.

Bill

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 2:02:09 PM PST
HB says:
I don't have a lot of Mozart String Quartet recordings. I do have the Talich Quartet set of all the String Quintets plus the famous Clarinet Quintet. That set is outstanding but it is now deleted and you are at the mercy of the Amazon Marketplace.

For the benefit of this thread, I listened to the Eder Quartet and Emerson Quartet play the Hunt Quartet (No. 17). The Eder was charming and totally delightful. The Emerson was cold as ice. It is amazing this quartet was so highly regarded when they were still performing.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 2:07:29 PM PST
MacDoom says:
The Orlando's are more than decent in their set with Imai, but prospective buyers should be aware that it is not the all-star line-up of the quartet - by this time, Istvan Parkanyi had left the group, and they were now playing with John Harding as first violinist. And to my ears they were noticeably less inspired in that configuration. Mind you - this is noticeably less inspired while remaining at an exceptionally ligh level of music making!

For the quartets, I've tried for many years to be completely satisfied with the Italian Quartet - and didn't quite succeed. I recently got (the 70s/80s Teldec versions of) the 10 latter quartets by the Alban Berg Quartet, and I'm glad I did. They're the ones for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 4:13:35 PM PST
Mandy-

If you want to hear each line of music clearly delineated, try the Suske Quartet. They have a 6 CD box that is pretty reasonable. It is only missing some very early quartets.

W.A.Mozart:String Quartets No.8-23

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 4:25:40 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:42 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 5:06:43 PM PST
HB says:
"If you want to hear each line of music clearly delineated, try the Suske Quartet. They have a 6 CD box that is pretty reasonable. It is only missing some very early quartets."

Super,

I have heard some of the quartets by the Suske on NML. It seems to be a really great set. BTW, Amazon lists the label as Edel but it is really part of the Berlin Classics family. Berlin Classics is not very well known in the USA but it is a great label with many great artists.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 5:13:34 PM PST
KenOC says:
"The Emerson was cold as ice. It is amazing this quartet was so highly regarded when they were still performing."

IMO the Emersons were very good technically and, in some things, very good overall. Their Bartok quartets are excellent, as are their Shostakovich quartets (probably not the very best in either case, though). They did a nice AoF and some people like their Beethoven cycle, which has the virtue of being very cheap.

I think they're at a disadvantage in music where people are looking for warmth or gemütlichkeit.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 6:56:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 9:44:26 PM PST
The Emersons aren't just 'cold as ice', they're also oddly aggressive & edgy--not qualities that I normally associate with Mozart.

As for the early quartets, there haven't been all that many recordings. The Italiano & Amadeus Quartets did them, then came the Hagens, which was an improvement, & in recent years Quartetto Casals has recorded an excellent set. I'd recommend the Casals for these, but it will probably take some searching to find it at a reasonable price, if anyone's interested: W.A. Mozart: Early String Quartets & Divertimenti K. 136, 137 & 138. The other group that has recorded them is the American String Quartet, which I haven't heard. And the Talich Quartet has done them as well, I believe.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 7:05:24 PM PST
For the quartets, you might do well to snap up the Hagen box while it's still available: Mozart: The String Quartets. Technically superb, excellent sound. Some people find them a bit too lean and short on charm, but I love the clarity and polish of their playing.

Bill

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 7:15:59 PM PST
KenOC says:
I have the Hagen's Haydn Quartets by Mozart and am very happy with them. They also did a wizard Beethoven Op. 135...

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 10:02:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 10:19:49 PM PST
WH says:
Mandryka, Thanks for the recommendation of the Quatuor Ebene. I love their Debussy / Faure / Ravel, and find their Brahms very enjoyable. I wasn't sure that this was their natural venue, but it's good to read your praise.

For the string quartets, I have the Quatuor Mosaiques performances -- which, unfortunately, are out of print on CD but can be downloaded as mp3s from Presto Classical and ArkivMusic. (Amazon sellers have some expensive versions of the CD for either new or used). I find these HIP performances quite extraordinary. There is an extraordinary richness and warmth to their sound -- and the performances are extraordinarily well recorded. Over the last month or so, I've spent one hour each Saturday listening to a couple of the "Great Ten" and following with score in hand. The precision and, paradoxically, the spontaneity of Quatuor Mosaiques performances are something to behold. March Eliot mentioned over on another thread that he had contacted Naive Records directly and their spokesman said that the Quatuor Mosaiques' versions of the Haydn quartets are supposed to become available again fairly soon. Hopefully their Mozart will as well.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 10:09:14 PM PST
My vote goes to the Amadeus Quartet. Thats the version I have on cd.

String Quartets

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 10:39:37 PM PST
HB-

Among performances I've heard and liked, the Suske Quartet seemed to be the best of both worlds. They yield clear and lean performances without the astringency that many have attributed to the Emerson SQ. I wonder how the Juilliard SQ perform these works. It would seem to me that they and Talich SQ would provide a somewhat scratchy and aggressive interpretation. Hagen SQ gives a tight performance that may be somewhat short on warmth. Quartetto Italiano, as one may expect, coat the quartets in butter - and that's not always a bad thing. I have a soft spot for the Quartetto Italiano.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 11:10:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 11:11:27 PM PST
Mandryka says:
I know you are a great fan of the Orlando. I've just ordered a couple of Philips CDs, one with some Prussian quartets and one with K 428 and k 458. I haven't heard anything by the Parkani quartet yet.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 11:40:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 11:46:53 PM PST
Mandryka says:
Apart from the Ebene, some commercial records which stand out for me are:

The Janacek Quartet in K387
The Juilliard's 1957 K 465 on Testment. Their 1962 record of it isn't quite in the same league IMO. Has anyone enjoyed their live record of the quintets?
The Netherlands Quartet Mozart CD on spotify, especially K499. This is a group to explore I think.
Tatrai quartet in K 516
the Budapest Quartet's first recording of the Hoffmeister
The Petersen Quartet's Prussian quartets. The others are very good too.

I'm listening to quite a lot to records from Guarneri on RCA and Smetana on Testament. The Guarneri K 499 is extraordinary. The Melos set of Prussian quartets is hopefully in the post right now, along with the Orlando records I mentioned above.

For people who can download, there's a wonderful set of concert recordings from the Leipzig quartet on symphonyshare, the quintets.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2013 1:23:07 AM PST
MacDoom says:
Mandryka,

It would surprise me if they disappointed.

The Parkanyi quartet is - predictably - my favourite current quartet. Stylistically, they are not as close to the Orlando of old as one might expect. Well, they've matured for thirty years, and time hasn't exactly stood still in the world of interpretation. Overall, the Orlando's were a tad more relaxed in their approach, generally (which I liked!), and the sound we hear from the Parkanyi's has grown a bit leaner. But that's all to be expected. They were very young in the Orlando years, and the excitement of them making discoveries was, I still think, an audible additional bonus to the impeccable ensemble playing.

Coloured opnions only, of course!

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 4:30:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2013 4:31:09 AM PST
Hmmmm, as usual around here a lot of bad press for the Emersons.
Their recent Sony Prussian quartets are my favorites. Don't know about their earlier DG recordings.
I also like the Amadeus in both the quartets and the quintets - the quintets were very cheap when I bought them a couple of months ago.
When I first heard the Italiano I thought it was heavy and old-fashioned, but recently I have listened again and loved it.
Hagen is too cold and clinical for me - although I like those early quartets - epecially K. 80.
Period wise I only have the gorgeous Mosaiques in the quartets and the Salomon and L'Archibudelli in the quintets and I like the Salomon the most (only includes 4 of the works though). Salomon's star is Simon Standage.

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 7:07:03 AM PST
WH says:
I know this is stretching beyond our exact focus here, but:
Has anyone heard the Quatuor Mosaiques' performance of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet K 581 (with Wolfgang Meyer on bass clarinet)? Recommend it?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2013 7:14:56 AM PST
WH

That is a wonderful recording! And it is coupled with the Kegelstat trio which is the perfect filler for me.
I might prefer the EMI Sabine Mayer in the quintet, but you can have both with the excuse that one is on period instruments and the other on modern.

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 8:12:22 AM PST
Yes, I'd recommend it as well. Although another fine period recording of the Clarinet Quintet comes from Charles Neidich & L'Archibudelli, which you may want to sample & consider too: Mozart: Clarinet Quintet; Clarinet Quartet; Kegelstatt Trio.

I like Quartetto Italiano most in the later quartets. They play the adagios very beautifully. Their 6 Haydn quartets, on the other hand, are earlier recordings, and weren't as well transfered to CD in my view (I have the Phillips box set). The string sound can even be grating at times. Hopefully Penatone will remaster them onto a hybrid SACD at some point.

I've been sampling Quatour Ebene's recording, and really like what I hear, thanks for the recommendation. (I'm looking forward to their Beethoven, some of which is on You Tube.)

Is anyone a fan of the Jerusalem Quartet's Mozart? They get good reviews from the British rags, but I haven't heard anything by them: Mozart: String Quartets K157, K458 & K589.

Macdoom--as you know, I share your enthusiasm for the Parkanyi Quartet (& Orlandos). However, I'm a little surprised that you find them leaner than the Orlandos (although I haven't actually sat down & listened to both groups side by side, so I'm not challenging your assertion. I suppose it could be attributable to their new, younger cellist?). But compared to most quartets today the Parkanyis play with more tonal heft than what one normally hears--except for maybe Quatour Ysaye, which is more of a throwback, older style group. Their tonal richness is one of the qualities I really like about the Parkanyis, as it gives the interpretations a less slick feeling & greater warmth.

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 9:17:17 AM PST
bejart7092 says:
superhugefatass says:
" ..... Quartetto Italiano, as one may expect, coat the quartets in butter..."

I prefer to think of them as being wrapped in velvet --
Less fattening that way ---

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2013 9:41:13 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:42 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2013 9:41:53 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:42 AM PST]
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
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Initial post:  Feb 19, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 3, 2015

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