Klenke-Quartett / Harald Schoneweg

Mozart: The String Quintets

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Collections of Mozart string quintets don't always include the early String Quintet in B flat major, K. 174, and the String Quintet in C minor, K. 406, the latter being a transcription of another work. Germany's Klenke Quartet, with second violist Harald Schoneweg, includes both, and this isn't all to the good. The quartet cultivates a rather hard-edged sound, with generally fast tempos and little vibrato, perhaps influenced by historically informed performances of Mozart. The lighter moments tend to be overwhelmed, and there are a lot of these in the two earlier works. The Klenke's performance of the first movement of the String Quintet in C major, K. 515, is hard to square with its Allegro marking. Persist, however, until the third disc, with the towering D major and E flat major quintets, K. 593 and K. 614, Mozart's final essays in the genre, and probably the least known of his big masterpieces. Sample the first movement of the String Quintet in D, K. 593, as contrapuntally intricate as anything Mozart ever wrote. The Klenke are fabulous here, with carefully chiseled playing that reveals the smallest of details in the counterpoint. All through these works, the players are alert to and bring out motivic details in a web so complex it feels at times as though you're listening to Brahms. France's Accentus label contributes fine studio sound to the mix in a triple-disc set that is far from perfect, but also absolutely compelling in many places.

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