Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – String Quintets K.406 & K.516
Recorded at the Unitarian Church, Budapest, from 14th to 17h of February, 1994.
About these works:
Mozart’s String Quintet in C minor, K 406 is the composer’s own arrangement of a Wind Serenade, K. 388, for two oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoon, written in 1782 at the end of July, shortly after the completion of the Singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio). It is mentioned by Mozart in a letter to his father on 27th July in that year, described as Nacht Musique but is not in the form or mood of a Serenade. The later arrangement was presumably designed to be advertised with the Quintels K. 515 and 516 on 2nd, 5th and 9th April 1788 in the Wiener Zeitung, where they are announced as schön und korrekt geschrieben, to be had from Johann Michael Puchberg, the textile-merchant and fellow freemason of Mozart, to whom he had lent various sums of money. The advertised quintets, available on subscription, represented an effort by Mozart to repay Puchberg. The failure of this attempt can be seen from a second advertisement in the Wiener Zeitung on 25th June, extending the subscription period to 1st January 1789. Publication by Artaria followed in 1789 and 1790, with the third of the quintets, K 406, appearing in 1792 after the composer’s death. The C minor Quintet, like Mozart’s other string quintets scored for two violins, two violas and cello, opens with a strong statement of the key on the ascending notes of the C minor tonic chord, with a softer answering syncopated phrase The second subject, in E flat major, is announced by the first violin, then joined by the first viola. Marked rhythms conclude the exposition, which is then repeated, followed by the central development, at first entrusted to violas and cello. There is a pause before the return of the first subject in recapitulation, with the second subject now transposed into C minor and varied to suit its new harmonic context. A gentle E flat melody opens the Andante, a first violin aria, in which the second violin joins in duet. The principal theme makes a hesitant re-appearance, followed by the secondary material, now transposed to end in E flat. The C minor Menuetto in canone uses the imitative device of canon in various ways, at first when the cello imitates the first violin and later briefly between first and second violin and more substantially between violins and violas, followed by the cello. The Trio, in C major, is in inverted canon, the first violin imitating the second with an inversion of the theme and the cello the first viola, while the second viola remains silent. The final Allegro is a set of variations, the first strongly marked in rhythm, followed by a version of the theme in triplets from the first violin. Syncopation characterizes the next variation, leading to a version that allows the cello a running part. Violas and cello open an E flat major variation, answered by the violins The first viola springs into activity in the next treatment of the material, followed by the cello, and a solemn passage of suspensions leads to the return of the theme, now in a cheerful C major. The Quintet in G minor, K. 516, bears the date 16th May 1787 and was written either before or during the composition of Don Giovanni, the period of the final illness of Mozart’s father, who died in Salzburg on 28th May. It is the most heartfelt of the string quintets, with an immediate poignancy in the principal theme, heard initially from the first violin, accompanied by second violin and first viola and then from the first viola, accompanied by the second viola and cello. The descending notes of the cello, echoing those of the first violin, lead to a second subject that goes some way towards dispelling the air of melancholy. This is transformed into the tragic in the development and again on its re-appearance in the recapitulation. The principal theme dominates the coda, as instrument after instrument enters in imitation. The Minuet sustains the mood, its melodic line broken by heavy chords. The Trio, in G major, offers a measure of contrast. The E flat major Adagio starts with a muted statement of the principal theme in music of great beauty, from which tragedy is never far away and soon makes its overt appearance. There is delight in the descending violin figure, answered by the first viola over a syncopated accompaniment, before the return of the first theme. The key of G minor returns in the Adagio introduction to the last movement in music of infinite sadness, leading to the G major Allegro, with its delicate and sprightly theme, intervening between episodes in which still the occasional shadow falls.
Jenos Selmeczi: violin
Peter Szts: violin
Sndor Papp: viola
Gyorgy Eder: cello
János Fehérvári: 2nd viola
1. String Quintet KV 406 – I – Allegro (7:55)
2. String Quintet KV 406 – II – Andante (4:34)
3. String Quintet KV 406 – III – Menuetto (4:28)
4. String Quintet KV 406 – IV – Allegro (6:07)
5. String Quintet KV 516 – I – Allegro (10:09)
6. String Quintet KV 516 – II – Menuetto (5:23)
7. String Quintet KV 516 – III – Adagio ma non troppo (7:35)
8. String Quintet KV 516 – IV – Adagio – Allegro (10:12)
Stereo, DDD, mp3 (320 kbps), 136.99 Mb, 56:01 minutes. Info & covers included.