Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – String Quartets No.20 & 23 & Adagio And Fugue In C Minor, K.546
Recorded at the Unitarian Church, Budapest,from 5th to 9th April, 1993.
About this work:
The String Quartet in D Major, K. 499, was written in 1786 in Vienna by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was published by — if not indeed written for — his friend Franz Anton Hoffmeister. Because of this, the quartet has acquired the nickname Hoffmeister. There are four movements:
I. Allegretto, in D major
II. Menuetto: Allegretto, in D major, with a trio section in D minor
III. Adagio, in G major
IV. Allegro, in D major
This work, sandwiched between the six quartets he dedicated to Joseph Haydn (1782–5) and the following three Prussian quartets (1789–90), intended to be dedicated to King Frederick William II of Prussia (the first edition bore no dedication, however), is often polyphonic in a way uncharacteristic of the earlier part of the classical music era. The menuetto and its trio give good examples of this in brief, with the brief irregular near-canon between first violin and viola in the second half of the main portion of the minuet, and the double imitations (between the violins, and between the viola and cello) going on in the trio.
Mozart’s final string quartet No.23 was to have been the third of six the composer intended to dedicate to King Frederick William II of Prussia, the cello-playing monarch whom Boccherini served as exclusive chamber musician from 1787 until the death of the king ten years later. Shortly after entering the F major Quartet in his thematic catalog in June, 1790, Mozart told Puchberg in a further letter that he had been “obliged” to give away the quartets “for a mere song in order to have cash in hand to meet my present difficulties.” Along with its two companions, K. 590 has been generally regarded by commentators as being less successful than the great set of six “Haydn” quartets composed between 1782 and 1785. Artaria’s advertisement for the “Prussian” quartets describes them as “concertante quartets,” thus paying due recognition to the prominence of their cello parts, which were obviously designed to give Frederick William significance. Yet if the structure is frequently looser than in the more tightly organized “Haydn” quartets, there is much compensation in the skillful manner in which Mozart allows the royal cello discourse with its colleagues, a refinement the composer confessed to finding “troublesome” in execution. The customary four movements are an opening Allegro moderato, an affecting, valedictory Andante, Menuetto, and Allegro finale. From the first movement this piece is filled with aural miracles. Dialogues scurry about and return slightly altered, like double entendres uttered in one of Mozart’s operas. At the movement’s end, the coda restates the development, gracefully winds down, and ends on a witty high note. Mozart never specified whether the second movement is an Allegretto or an Andante. Alfred Einstein said of it: “It seems to mingle the bliss and sorrow of a farewell to life. How beautiful life has been! How sad! How brief!” The Menuetto is charged with ornamental appoggiaturas and contrary phrases. The finale is packed with wondrous devices, such as unexpected silences and intricate counterpoint. Listen closely in the last bars and you’ll even hear a bagpipe-like drone.
The C-minor Fugue was first composed in December of 1783 for two pianos (K. 426) then re-arranged for strings, with an introductory Adagio, in June 1788 – the prolific summer during which he also penned his last three symphonies. The Adagio alternates a dotted-rhythm reminiscent of a French overture with a more lyrical passage. A French overture normally begins a more extended multi-movement work; in this case, its use serves to establish a period flavor and a sense of occasion. The theme of the Fugue is strongly rhythmic, with little of Mozart’s melodic charm – and yet it has the uniquely Mozartean quality of suggesting a character through gesture and nuance. The “crisis in creative activity” was not for naught.
János Selmeczi: violin
Péter Szüts violin
Sándor Papp: viola
György Éder: cello
01. String Quartet No.20 – Allegretto (8:48)
02. String Quartet No.20 – Menuetto: Allegretto (3:18)
03. String Quartet No.20 – Adagio (8:14)
04. String Quartet No.20 – Allegro (6:51)
05. String Quartet No.23 – Allegro Moderato (8:57)
06. String Quartet No.23 – Andante (Allegretto) (9:04)
07. String Quartet No.23 – Minuetto (3:57)
08. String Quartet No.23 – Allegro (5:06)
09. Adagio And Fughe In C Minor, K.546 – Adagio (4:09)
10. Adagio And Fughe In C Minor, K.546 – Fuga: Allegro(moderato) (3:59)
Stereo, DDD, mp3, 320 kbps, 155,06 Mb, 62:23 minutes. Covers & info included