American String Quartet

Mozart: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2

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Vol. 2 of the American String Quartet's survey of the complete Mozart string quartets finds the ensemble right where it left off in Vol. 1: pleasantly in the middle of two extremes of interpretation. This approach to Mozart is certainly not the cold, sterile, aloof approach that treats the quartets like fragile flowers. Nor is it an over-romanticized, sentimental version that treats Mozart more like Brahms or Schumann. Rather, the quartet brings the best of both worlds not merely by accident or happenstance, but after careful academic consideration of the score and period performance practice. In all, the performances give the impression of just as much carefree spontaneity as Mozart had in composing. The ensemble's sound quality is generally quite nice, though maybe not as refined as it may have hoped in choosing a matched set of Stradivari instruments. The cello remains quite dominant, sometimes obscuring its smaller companions. Still, the American String Quartet's thoughtful interpretation is likely to be appealing to a wide array of listeners. The included liner notes offer an abundance of information regarding each quartet and the many decisions that went into the best way to bring each of them to life.

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