Recorded in 1975 and originally released by the Vox Music Group, these beautifully balanced performances will be familiar to many listeners. My favorite recordings of these works have included the subtle, rhythmically alert recordings by the Budapest Quartet on Sony and the tonally rich sessions led by violinist Artur Grumiaux on Philips. (The Grumiauxs have been available on two double-CD packages that contained all the quintets, including the horn quintet and clarinet quintet and, for good measure, I suppose, the Quartet K 516 thrown in. Now I see that they are available in a three-CD package that also includes the Trio, K 563.) I found the recordings of the Amadeus Quartet tonally more harsh and less pleasing overall.
TheRead more Fine Arts Quartet has rarely sounded better to my ears than on these mature masterpieces. Perhaps I am used to hearing them on scratchy Vox LPs. Music & Arts has done an excellent job at re-mastering here. The sound is compact, a bit distant, much as it would be if I were to hear the group live. The playing is superb; whether in the high drama of the Quintet in G Minor, or in rendering the playful, Haydnesque Minuet-Allegretto from K 593, the Fine Arts Quartet with violist Francis Tursi has an unaffected, but flexible approach to Mozart. They never rant, nor do they make the composer patrician. I imagine one advantage of this issue is that one finds the quintets on two discs. Another should be the richly idiomatic performances, whose tonal beauty, less lush than Grumiaux’s, is still effective.