Festetics Quartet

Mozart: Les Derniers Quatuors

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Although performing on period instruments, Quatuor Festetics' approach to Mozart's late string quartets has more in common with such modern instrument groups as the Quartetto Italiano and the Guarneri Quartet than with period instrument quartets like the Salomon Quartet or Quatuor Mosaïques. The Hungarian group correctly eschews portamento and excessive vibrato as anachronistic, but its tone is still far warmer and its sonority more opulent than most period instrument quartets, warmer and more opulent, in fact, than most contemporary quartets like the Kodály or Tatrai Quartet. Technically, Quatuor Festetics is a first-class group with a tight but flexible ensemble, and a feel for rhythm that makes even its slightly slower than usual tempos seem proper. Interpretively, it is more interested in expressing emotions through phrasing than in articulating structures through temporal relationships, an approach that may lose as many supporters as it wins, because some listeners may not be able to accept this vision of a more overtly emotional Mozart. Those who prefer their Mozart with his heart on his sleeve, rather than obscured by technical and rhetorical brilliance, may appreciate Quatuor Festetics' performances. Recorded in 1993, Arcana's digital sound is close, clear, and very vivid.

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