Joseph Schuster (1748-1812), born in Dresden, was best known in his day for his church music and operas. These six quartets date from 1780. They are commissioned by the Marquis Giuseppe Ximenes, a keen amateur violinist living in Padua, who had earlier given the young Mozart the commission for his oratorio La Betulia Liberata. The Mozartian connection doesn’t stop there: Mozart heard and admired Schuster’s keyboard and violin sonatas — they probably inspired him to write the six ‘Palatine’ sonatas Op 1 KV 301-306. And, in the 1920s, the French scholar Saint-Foix actually attributed four of these quartets to Mozart, on stylistic grounds.
“Compared to quartets by Haydn and Mozart they are very short pieces, with, for the most part, simple, even bare textures, but composed with evident care and imagination, and enlivened by a pleasing, natural melodic quality. The two minor-key quartets are especially unusual. They are designed to be played without a break, and both begin with slow movements of considerable expressive intensity. The music is far from routine, and so are the performances. On period instruments, the Joseph Joachim players use vibrato sparingly and selectively, but with continually varied bow speed and pressure make a vividly expressive impression.” (Gramophone)