Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, MOZART: String Quartets, K 458, ‘The Hunt’ and K 465, ‘Dissonance’

Justin Davidson

By Justin Davidson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Reinventing the string quartet from the inside out

Mozart handled virtually every genre known to music in 18th century Europe, from the four-hand parlor ditty to the grand historical opera, and he left virtually all of them transformed. No form changed more drastically in his hands than the string quartet. The archetype he inherited was a polite, rigidified set of miniatures that descended from the baroque dance suite and always included a dainty minuet. To his romantic successors he bequeathed a chamber symphony, whose expressive language could range from intimate meditations to the grand, mercurial emotions. This recording partially recapitulates that history. The mature "Hunt" Quartet, inspired by and dedicated to his elder Franz Josef Haydn, bears in its horn-like calls echoes of life on rural estates. The "Dissonance" Quartet begins with a contrapuntal introduction that two centuries later still sounds austere, introspective and disquieting.