Mozart's String Quintets -
reviewed by ROBERT ANDERSON
'The playing demonstrates the lovely range of tone colours the team can so readily deploy.'
In March 1778 Mozart and his mother set off from Mannheim for Paris.
The journey by coach almost killed them because of the cold, the lack of
air and excruciating boredom. Mozart had with him a B flat string quintet
with two violas written when he was sixteen and just back from his third
Italian journey. It was Mozart's year of the two violas, as all his 1773
symphonies use them. Mozart then wrote no more string quintets for fourteen
years. What brought him back to the medium and the production of five masterpieces
in his last five years? Perhaps the need for patronage. In January 1786
Boccherini had become court composer to the future king of Prussia, a good
cellist. Mozart may have hoped to interest him in a batch of quintets that
could enrich his library and display his skill. He later dedicated his final
three quartets to the king, but with the quintets he failed. He then announced
three of them for public subscription, but the response was poor.
Copyright © 25 September 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK