Time audits our labours. The Amadeus Quartet served their day honourably. These performances of Mozart's string quintets with Cecil Aronowitz were recorded in the late Sixties. How have they aged?
The Colossi of Memnon, sad to say, are holding up better. I am no fan of the Amadeus Quartet per se. The cellist, violist and second violinist are a shade anonymous as players. Norbert Brainin is the binary opposite but he so grates on the ear - one can never mistake him for Siegmund Nissel. As an ensemble, there is a lumpiness to the playing which brings porridge to mind. It is bewildering that anyone could trumpet their virtues unless nostalgia is brought into play. For whatever reason, DG never did the Amadeus Quartet any favours; be they shrill, synthetic or shallow, their recordings are never state-of-the-art. These performances are no exception.
Turn your attention to K 614 - a masterpiece in anyone's language. Does anyone really think this is how to play its slow movement - rough and ready with little or no surface sheen or integration in depth? Such be the rawness, the Amadeus could almost pass as a quartet fresh from the conservatorium. K 174 is devoid of finesse. Throughout this survey, I am astounded by the inability of the Amadeus Quartet (and their ring-in) to convey "stillness in motion" - to wit, their semi-prosaic renditions of the slow movements of the C Major and the G Minor. I like their pacing in the first movement of the latter, even if they fail to convey the tempest in its recapitulation; Grumiaux and gang, among others, trump them at this point. Like so many other accounts, the performance of K 406 fails to banish memories of Mozart's original arrangement for winds.
The Grumiaux alternative is far preferable. Longevity is theirs. Mozart-Complete String Quintets