The Talich Quartet plays Mozart, reviewed by RON BIERMAN
Calliope CAL 5246
I should never take on reviews of Mozart when the performances are as fine as
these. I neglect other CDs, bills that need to be paid and also my wife. Then when
I finally recover, sated with repeated listens, it's so much harder to give the
benefit of the doubt to the next composer I hear, whether a forgotten Baroque
genius or the latest never-to-be-remembered contemporary genius.
On the other hand it is an easy review to write. The CD is a bargain-priced
reissue of one originally released ten years ago. The sound is as good as the
performance. If you like Mozart string quartets played on contemporary instruments,
buy these. I could end there, and you might, but of course I won't.
The six 'Milan' quartets were composed in 1772-3 during Mozart's third trip to
Italy (album notes say second, but who's counting). They display the Italian
influence of G B Sammartini and others, for example in the extended minuets
concluding K156 and K158 [listen -- track 12, 0:00-0:47].
All are in three movements and the longest quartet is a little over fourteen
minutes. Mozart was sixteen when he started writing them. I feel substantially less
inadequate knowing he was seventeen by the time he finished. Maybe the opera he was
delivering to Milan slowed him down.
So these are youthful works, of graceful charm rather than profound depths, but
a delight in any event [listen -- track 9, 1:00-1:48].
Recording companies seem to believe even Mozart can't have been as good as he
actually was at sixteen, so there aren't many competing performances. The
Eder Quartet mixes the six Milan quartets in with others on three Naxos disks.
The performances are good, but easily bettered by the Talich because of more
intimate sound and slightly faster tempos that fit the style better. Quartetto
Italiano is stronger competition, but available only as part of a complete set.
Not to worry. As I said before, if you like Mozart string quartets played on
contemporary instruments, buy these. And this time I will end there.
Copyright © 5 July 2003
Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA
BUY THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET
Mozart: Les Six Quatuors 'milanais'
CAL 5246 DDD Stereo 72'50" 2003 Calliope
The Talich Quartet: Petr Messiereur and Jan Kvapil, violin, Jan Talich, viola, Evzen Rattay, cello
Quartet K155 in D; Quartet K156; Quartet K157; Quartet K158 in F; Quartet K159; Quartet K160
Record Box is Music & Vision's
regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews