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Mozart: Complete String Quartets Box set


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Product details

  • Performer: Quartetto Italiano
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (10 Aug. 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00000C2F6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,395 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Having Mozart's entire quartet output together makes sense, particularly when the performances are as elegant and eloquent as these, and the recording wears its three decades so well. OK, so the first 13 quartets, all written before Mozart was 17, aren't works you'll play often, but the Quartetto Italiano give you what there is to say about them. The 10 mature quartets are Mozart at or near his best, taking up the challenge set by Haydn and meeting it head on. The quartets between K387 and K465 were dedicated to the older master, and bring a depth to the medium that Mozart didn't equal again. If K387 is Mozart as his most Haydn-ish, K464 and K465 (the famous Dissonance) find him at ease in his own language. After the delightful K499 (the Hoffmeister), Mozart's last three, so-called Prussian quartets (1789-90) find him achieving miracles giving the cello a major say in the music-making, pleasing his royal patron in the process. These are inward-looking pieces, still underrated. Get to know them in this excellent and constantly pleasurable set. --Richard Whitehouse

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Street on 29 Dec. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These are excellent performances, but the performers' hypersensitivity in matters of dynamics defeats modest equipment. Borciani has a variety of pianissimi which he uses at any piano marking, so the contrasts in something like the first movement of K387 are exaggerated and afflicted by booming cello at anything above a modest volume. In the contrapuntal finale, this boom is so bad you have to look at the score to determine whether the viola is involved or not. There is nothing like that on the LPs, and I imagine that whatever the first CD transfers did wrong has never been corrected. Adjusting for each quartet - let alone each CD is nerve-wracking and very frustrating. The safest thing to do is boost the treble and cut the bass - for the bass by more than half, which can then be adjusted in two different tutti passages. In K428 this will also, I'm afraid indicate that the Italiano's approach is a bit too relaxed, even for the sounds they make, which are in essence very beautiful. The first movement K458 is not much more than a witty evening conversation about a morning's hunt. Vigour is refined out. The Smetana and Budapest are more direct. But this is certainly bella figura. This edition also omits the extra three three-movement Salzburg Divertimenti included in the boxed LP set, and, if I remember rightly, the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which was once often recorded by suitably strengthened quartets. It's a disappointment in this state - the LPs, I am afraid, if you have the patience and the equipment, are still the best recension of this exceptional series. In their original form they were among the best chamber music recordings of their time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Lots of Wonderful Mozart 27 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Among the modern-instrument versions this ranks among the very best--equal to the early Berg's set of late quartets (Teldec). In the absence of the Talich Haydn Quartets from the catalog this is the clear choice among those approaches that conceive of the quartet as a conversation of four players (contrasted with, for example, the Budapest at the other extreme of homogenous blending). The individual players' sounds are sumptuous and the recording does them justice (far better than usual for Phillips). This album makes a nice complement to the Quatuor Mosaiques (Astree Auvidis) on period instruments.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
tempi problems at a minimum, great sound and interpretations 24 Jun. 2012
By Kirk List - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I will focus on the ten greatest quartets (#s 14-23) which I know best. However, the QI play the earlier quartets just as well. Occasionally the QI played too slowly for me, especially late in its career. But in the Mozart I found little of this problem, which allwos one to enjoy their beautiful sound (individually and collectively) and savor the depth -charged interpretations-sound was a factor but rarely an end in itself. Tempi here are usually played as written, not too slowly but not rushed (c.f their slowish Beethoven opus 18s and their
Schubert #15) There is not a weak interpretation here, an asset which parallels their Beethoven #s 7-16 and Schubert #s 12-14. The music itself is glorious and it is shameful that @s 20-23 are ( or were) less well known. I would renk them as follows in descending order: 15, 23, 22, 20, 21, 19, 17, 18, 14, 16.

Peers: Emerson (especially #s 21-23-they did not do #20), Smetana, Amadeus, Guarneri
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
superlative Mozart cycle from Quartetto Italiano 22 Mar. 2014
By jsa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Quartetto Italiano is most famous for their Beethoven quartet cycle, which still occupies an exalted place in the catalogue despite an avalanche of formidable competition over the last 40 years, but their Mozart cycle is also a top choice for those looking to add this music to their libraries.

While listeners may not turn all that often to the first disc, which includes Mozart's earliest works in the quartet form, the Italian players still make the most of things turning in performances that are fresh and lively. Mozart seemed to take a quantum leap with the eighth quartet (K168), which is already a fully mature statement, and this is where the Quartetto Italiano shows why they had such a great reputation. They understand the music perfectly, their sound is elegant, but not overly so, and beefy where it needs to be. There's no exaggeration, no unnecessary display nor pyrotechnics anywhere, just idiomatic, balanced playing that's a pleasure to listen to. All of the quartets from K168-K173 are played to perfection.

The later quartets are also exceptional, and while the QI's approach may sometimes have a little less oomph and edginess than that of the Alban Berg Quartet, my long-standing favorite in this repertoire (Mozart: String Quartets, Nos. 14 - 23), they are still every bit ABQ's equal.

These recordings were made between 1966-1972 and still sound wonderful.

Very highly recommended!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mozart is indeed wonderful.... 18 April 2014
By John Henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Quartetto Italiano is one of the best quartets and are primarily known for their Beethoven quartet cycle, which is truly a masterpiece and holds a special place in classical music discography. They have recorded Mozart before, individual discs of the late quartets, 'Dissonance', 'Hunt' and a few others. This is the first time I have seen the late quartets of Mozart, which are recorded quite frequently, combined with his earlier efforts, so that one can look at his work in a genre over his entire lifetime. It makes a great deal of difference, especially if you are not trained as a musician, like myself, but know enough, to be able to see changes developmentally in a composer and in the way a form is composed, like a quartet. Quartetto Italiano has now disbanded, as a post to this review was kind enough to inform me-correcting my oversight.
These quartets are absolutely beautiful- and one of the reasons why I finally bought this box was my failure to find Mozart's early quartets recorded anywhere to my satisfaction. Having listened to a number of other quartets do Mozart, Quartetto Italiano is consistently beautiful, full, and lush. I would suggest this to anyone who really wants to love Mozart. The same group has also done the quintets which I really have a hard time putting down. Having purchased the complete Haydn quartets (Kodaly Quartet) and this set of CD's, I think I can rest for awhile. For 8 CD's the price is outstanding. A must buy....... For those who are just beginning to listen to listen to Mozart's chamber music, I would also suggest listening to his quintets, (there is a great recording on Phillips) which are also real masterpieces, performed by Arthur Grumiaux and company. Finally, for those who do not wish to purchase the entire Mozart string quartet corpus, the Alban Berg Quartett on Teldec doing the Haydn, Hoffmeister, and Prussian quartets will serve as a great stand-in. But my guess is you'll purchase both.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Italiano quartet is absolutely wonderful. 11 Oct. 2014
By Leeber Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I have the 1991 version of these recordings. The first CDs are filled with with the early quartets. They were written when Mozart was 14 to 16 years old from 1770-1773. There are some very beautiful movements in them and they are excellent for intermediate amateurs seeking improve their ensemble skills. In my box there is an excellent article enclosed by Lockwood that discusses the history of these quartets. Hopefully it is included in this box. The remaining CDs include the mature quartets including the six quartets dedicated to Haydn. They were written in 1785-1786. The six Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn and the Opus 76 Haydn quartets are the key to appreciating the beauty and structure of the classical string quartet. The Italiano quartet was one the top quartets in this time period. Both the early and later quartets are beautifully played and recorded. The transfer to digital CD from analog was well done. I do not know if any more processing was done for this release. If you love Mozart or chamber music this is a great box and a bargain.
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