Prague String Quartet, Mozart – String Quartets

Anastasia Tsioulcas

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Mozart - String Quartets

Prague String Quartet
The quartet lends the mature Mozart melodic brilliance and easy grace

Two of Mozart's mature string quartets &#8212 No. 14 in G Major, K. 387 and No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 Dissonance &#8212 receive sweet and warm readings on this 1976 reissue. This quartet achieves a good balance between all four voices, particularly in the fugal writing of No. 14's last movement. The Prague players might labor a bit too heavily in K. 465's otherworldly Andante cantabile, but at other points their vigilance pays off, such as in the nicely articulated figures in the opening of No. 14's Minuet. In the Prague Quartet's best moments, there's real crackle and fire, especially in the C Major's concluding Allegro molto, and these players imbue both quartets with gorgeous lyricism. While this recording may not be the standard-bearer for these two works, the Prague musicians have a rich Mitteleuropean style whose roots date back to Mozart himself, and provide us with another lens through which to view the master's music. The Prague String Quartet's exploration of Mozart's mature work continues on the second disc with a 1976 recording of the string quartets No. 20 in D Major, K. 499 "Hoffmeister"; No. 21 in D Major, K. 575; and No. 23 in F Major, K. 590. K.499, written shortly after "The Marriage of Figaro," is an ebullient burst of sunshine, one whose warmth and joy is elegantly voiced by the Prague players. The last two pieces are part of a set of three works dubbed the "Prussian" quartets, which were commissioned by Prussia's King Frederick II, himself a noted amateur cellist. These quartets 'melodic brilliance and easy grace come into full play on this collection, such as in the F Major's inventive Allegro moderato. As on the earlier disc in this collection, the Prague players exhibit a fine warmth, richness and attention to detail.