The conclusion of a very special edition! The Leipzig String Quartet performs four new works and with them rounds off the series of the early string quartets composed by the sixteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart during his journeys to Milan and Vienna. Now that the general inspection of Mozart’s quartets by this ensemble is complete, the only question is: Why have these youthfully fresh pieces so very much been overshadowed by the ten famous “great quartets”?
After all, it was with the carefreeness of youth that the teenage Mozart went to work here: escaping from the narrowly circumscribed Salzburgian world, he eagerly absorbed what was in demand: in Milan the threemovement Italian sinfonia was his model; in Vienna it was the four-movement sonata of early Viennese classicism. However, Mozart did more than just produce skillful stylistic copies; he varied the fashionable model with rich imagination. For example, the first movement of K. 171 has a slow introduction that reappears as the coda of the movement, and the minuet from K. 172 begins as a double canon – an extremely unusual choice for this otherwise rather simply designed dance movement.
The composer does not remain within the bounds of filigree motivic work; instead, his highly imaginative themes and melodies lead him beyond them. As a result, the middle parts sometimes end up being somewhat shorter; at the same time, however, the audience is constantly offered something new. Many a slow movement even seems to be bursting with tension – which can be experienced most vividly in the Milan Quartet K. 160, before the work concludes with a fast and furious presto movement.
Historically informed and using bows from the period when Mozart composed the quartets, the Leipzig String Quartet sets out in quest of a sound in keeping with the times and incorporating ideas of musikal rhetoric as well as long lines of development and singing cantilenas. The quartets of Mozart’s youth now produce a slenderized effect without economizing on tonal refinement. This is “classical“ musikal pleasure in the best sense of the term!
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Early String Quartets Vol. 3
String Quartet in F major KV 158;
String Quartet in E flat major KV 160;
String Quartet in B flat major KV 171;
String Quartet in E flat major KV 172;