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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST OF THE BEST, 27 May 2007
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This review is from: Mozart-Complete String Quintets (Audio CD)
If I had to name the three greatest works of chamber music that even Mozart ever produced, I don't think it would take me long to nominate the string quintets in C major and G minor and the Divertimento for string trio. Mozart loved the viola, he played the viola, and an extra viola on top of the standard string quartet drew wonders from him. Wonders were his day-to-day modus operandi of course, but I doubt that in his entire output he ever composed anything more astounding than the great and lengthy work he produced for a combination that lacked not only any second viola but even the usual second violin.

The recordings of the quintets are from 1974 with digital remastering. There is a certain amount of the `edginess' to the sound that I often associate with this process, but it does not amount to much and after a few hearings I had forgotten about it. In no way does it come between me and my enjoyment of some outstanding Mozart playing on this 3-disc set. There is only one single movement in all the 24 that make up the quintets that raises any significant doubts in my mind, and it is the first movement of the C minor. This is the composer's own arrangement of his great `serenade' for wind instruments K388 (the title chosen because Mozart did not know the term `octet') and Grumiaux and his partners elect to give it the fast-and-uneasy treatment often given to the first movement of Mozart's piano concerto in the same key. There is considerable weight of scholarly opinion behind this way of doing it, but I'm still inclined to welcome a more relaxed approach, such as I know from an interesting re-arrangement by Holliger with his oboe in place of the first violin. For me Holliger's slightly slower tempo enhances the solemnity of the movement, and it does wonders for what is already wonderful, the melody of the second subject. Otherwise I cannot speak too highly of the interpretations that we are offered here. The quintet K174 is given with the self-assurance that suits this delightful early work, extra gravitas of course attends the mature masterpieces, the slow movements of the other four quintets are sublime (with wonderful muted sound in the G minor), and Mozart's final tribute to his great mentor Haydn in the E flat quintet has all the poise and elegance I could wish for.

The Divertimento is from 1967, and the sound is not quite so good, although I have no major complaint to make. It puts this account at a slight disadvantage against a superb performance of this miracle of a work by Gidon Kremer, Kim Kashkashian and Yo-yo Ma; but that, of course, does not bring us all the other quintets at a very attractive price as this set does. In the first movement I still miss Kremer's wonderful and bold phrasing, but I doubt that I ever heard the celestial final rondo better done than it is here, by Kremer and co or by anyone.

Even the liner-notes are rather good. I wonder whether the general standard of these is looking up (a few years ago I would have said it badly needed to) or whether I have simply been lucky in this regard with my more recent purchases. There is a picture of the Grumiaux trio, but none of their two collaborators in the quintets, so let me close by highlighting the names of Arpad Gerecz and Max Lesueur for their fine contribution to what can fairly be called an outstanding set.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Oct 2013 17:55:27 BDT

Is there som faults/wrong information on the cover of
the CD? I am an amateur to classical Music, and do not
understand the terms and Language within this genere but,
it says String Quintet No.4 in C minor, K.406 on the back
of my CD Cover, and on prestoclassical it says G minor.
It also says K.515 on the Second Quintet, and the Third
Quintet is described as a G minor, K.516.
A little frustrated. Anyone know if the
mistakes has been corrected, and there
is a possibility to Return and get the right one?
(if these are mistakes at all, maybe I misunerstand this)

Great review by the way!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2013 19:53:01 BDT
You are most kind. To answer your questions (from memory but with reasonable confidence) K406 is in C minor. The C major quintet is K515 I'm pretty sure, and the G minor is K516. I hope they have given you the right quintets to go with these K-numbers, but I don't know how they can be 'second' and 'third' if another quintet with a lower K-number is 'fourth'.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 10:13:37 BDT
Thank you for Your answer. I have to check if they are the right ones, my path into Chamber Music :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 10:43:07 BDT
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