Quartetto Italiano

Mozart: String Quartets; String Quintets [Box Set]

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Mozart: String Quartets; String Quintets [Box Set] Review

by James Leonard

Most of the volumes in Philips' original Mozart edition were quite fine, some were very fine, and some were as good as it got. This volume combing the quartets and quintets for strings was as good as it got. The Quartetto Italiano's mid-'60s through early '70s stereo recordings of the quartets are supremely refined, exceedingly lovely and ineffably beautiful. They are also from first to last deeply dedicated to the music, granting it the full measure of its sublimity. The Italiano's balanced sonorities, lucid textures, poised ensemble, infallible intonation, and, above all, their supple melodies ideally suit Mozart's music and their performances are uniformly successful from the brilliant first G major Quartet to the masterful last F major Quartet. The Grumiaux Quintet's 1973 stereo recordings of the quintets were likewise as good as the Italiano's, albeit not in the same way. The quintet led by violinist Arthur Grumiaux did not have the long-term professional commitment of the Italiano, so the ensemble was as impeccable but more relaxed, the tone was as lovely but more focused, and the beauty less ineffable than tangible. And yet this feels equally appropriate for Mozart's mature quintets. Though the lines still sing, there is more expressivity in the melodies, more depth in the harmonies, more heart in the chromaticism, and more brain in the developments. Above all, the more individualistic Grumiaux Quintet is, from top to bottom, profoundly in love with the music, cherishing in it the full depth of its humanity. Philips' sound was stereo at its best: close but full, clear but warm, honest but beautiful.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
String Quartet No. 1 in G major ("Lodi"), K. 80 (K. 73f)
1 Quartetto Italiano 06:46 Amazon
2 Quartetto Italiano 03:14 Amazon
3 Quartetto Italiano 03:07 Amazon
4 Quartetto Italiano 02:22 Amazon
String Quartet No. 2 in D major, K. 155 (K. 134a)
5 Quartetto Italiano 03:36 Amazon
6 Quartetto Italiano 04:42 Amazon
7 Quartetto Italiano 01:35 Amazon
String Quartet No. 3 in G major, K. 156 (K. 134b)
8 Quartetto Italiano 03:05 Amazon
9 Quartetto Italiano 06:45 Amazon
10 Quartetto Italiano 03:55 Amazon
11 Quartetto Italiano 02:54 Amazon
String Quartet No. 4 in C major, K. 157
12 Quartetto Italiano 05:24 Amazon
13 Quartetto Italiano 05:04 Amazon
14 Quartetto Italiano 02:05 Amazon
String Quartet No. 5 in F major, K. 158
15 Quartetto Italiano 03:30 Amazon
16 Quartetto Italiano 05:48 Amazon
17 Quartetto Italiano 06:18 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick