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Amadeus Quartet
THE 1950s MOZART RECORDINGS
(Deutsche Grammophon)
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These recordings offer some of the most idiomatic and unforced Mozart quartets youíre likely to hear. The Amadeus Quartet was the last inheritor of the great Viennese quartet tradition that, like so much else, was rudely discontinued by the war. In later recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, its sound became somewhat doughy and its playing a bit stiff. That makes these mono recordings all the more surprising: they have a spontaneity and freshness that sometimes eluded the Amadeus in stereo.

Comprising nine of Mozartís 10 mature string quartets and four of the string quintets (with violist Cecil Aronowitz sitting in), this box set is awash in playing that points up Mozartís contrapuntal skill and formal invention. But the Amadeusís performance is so fluent and effortless that it achieves all this without sacrificing any of Mozartís simple perfection. Thatís especially true in the five quartets dedicated to Haydn: whereas many foursomes play these works dramatically in order to play up their innovation, the Amadeus lets everything unfold with fluency and charm. If the performers occasionally seem a little poí-faced, they show in several places ó notably the opening of the Hunt Quartet and the Finale of the E-flat ó that they can be as buoyant as they want to.

BY DAVID WEININGER


Issue Date: April 30 - May 6, 2004
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