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Mozart: Quintets / Hough, Frost, Vlatkovic, Imai, Villa Musica Ensemble, Orlando Quartet


Release Date: 09/09/2014 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 9046   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Martin FröstEnrique SantiagoHariolf SchlichtigMartin Ostertag,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vertavo String QuartetVilla Musica EnsembleBerlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet,   ... 
Number of Discs: 4 
Length: 4 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Is there a work more agreeable among Mozart’s entire output than his C major quintet K. 515? Well, perhaps not, but the D major K. 593 would be a strong contender. Nor is there a work that’s stormier, more dramatic, spookier, or ultimately more satisfying in its conclusion than the G minor K. 516, a masterpiece in every respect that sets music for five instruments on a symphonic scale that has an emotional intensity equal to any of Mozart’s–or Haydn’s, or Beethoven’s–chamber or orchestral works.

However one chooses to look at these works in the context of Mozart’s output, they are unique and monumental–even the early K. 174, written at age 17, has an Adagio more substantial than in any of the other, much later quintets; the
Read more first movement of the C major K. 515, according to Charles Rosen, “is the largest sonata-allegro before Beethoven”; the third-movement Adagio of the G minor is a model of sublime, serene beauty, perfectly crafted (and possibly a model for Beethoven’s Op. 130 “Cavatina”?).

And fortunately for listeners, there are several first-rate recordings to choose from, including this one from the very fine Orlando Quartet, a reissue of a set from 1989, which may not be among the usual “big-name” offerings (Talich, Berg, Juilliard, Budapest, Guarneri), but that delivers consistently excellent performances (enriched by the contribution of violist Nobuko Imai). After revisiting these recordings, and comparing them to the available rivals in the catalog, I would be happy if this were my only set–and it also contains three additional quintets, for piano and winds (K. 452), clarinet (K. 581), and horn (K. 407), with world-class soloists Stephen Hough, Martin Fröst, and Radovan Vlatkovic.

Charles Rosen devoted an entire chapter of his book The Classical Style to Mozart’s string quintets, works that he rightly cites as the composer’s “greatest achievement in chamber music”. And you could add, unsurpassed by any composer before or since. Mozart did not treat this form or structure as a glorified string quartet or as just a convenient means to highlight a soloist or pair of soloists with accompaniment. The additonal viola is not filler, but serves the ensemble as both an integral melodic, conversational player as well as an active, dynamic textural partner.

Aside from the G minor quintet, which lives just outside the realm of earthly, mortal creations, the C major and D major quintets represent the height of Mozart’s mastery of form, style, and medium. Haydn is never too far from the C major, especially in its smiling opening theme and buoyant mood, and, for me at least, the D major has opera written all over it, from the anticipatory Larghetto to the playful theme of the Allegro, and to the Finale, with its sunny, skipping chromatic motif. Mozart was between Così and Zauberflöte when he wrote this, and it just makes sense that he might have been still in costume for this delightfully extroverted chamber piece.

The three quintets featuring winds, written in the last decade of Mozart’s life, were both innovative and, in the case of the works for clarinet and horn, created for particular musicians–clarinettist Anton Stadler and hornist Joseph Leutgeb. The recordings come from sessions in the early 2000s, and they are equal in performance quality and sound to the earlier-recorded string quintets. For any collector of Mozart, the string quintets are as essential as the symphonies, the quartets, or any of the solo or chamber works. As mentioned, you can find very good performances elsewhere, but none better than these, and with the bonus of the three additional quintets, the early K. 174, the fine sound, and the informative liner notes, this four-disc box makes an irresistible deal.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A major, K 581 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Martin Fröst (Clarinet), Martin Fröst (Basset Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vertavo String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1789; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 32 Minutes 55 Secs. 
2.
Quintet for Horn, Violin, 2 Violas and Cello in E flat major, K 407 (386c) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Enrique Santiago (Viola), Hariolf Schlichtig (Viola), Martin Ostertag (Cello),
Radovan Vlatkovic (French Horn), Rainer Kussmaul (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Villa Musica Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Riding Academy, Arolsen, Germany 
Length: 17 Minutes 54 Secs. 
3.
Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Henning Trog (Bassoon), Stephen Hough (Piano), Fergus McWilliam (French Horn),
Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Andreas Wittman (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/2000 
Venue:  Teldec Studios, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 24 Minutes 37 Secs. 
4.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 1 in B flat major, K 174 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin), John Harding (Violin), Nobuko Imai (Viola),
Ferdinand Erblich (Viola), Stefan Metz (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1773; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/1989 
Venue:  Old Catholic Church, Delft, Netherlands 
Length: 37 Minutes 22 Secs. 
5.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 2 in C minor, K 406 (516b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  John Harding (Violin), Nobuko Imai (Viola), Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin),
Ferdinand Erblich (Viola), Stefan Metz (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/1989 
Venue:  Old Catholic Church, Delft, Netherlands 
Length: 28 Minutes 11 Secs. 
6.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 3 in C major, K 515 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin), John Harding (Violin), Ferdinand Erblich (Viola),
Stefan Metz (Cello), Nobuko Imai (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 5 in D major, K 593 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  John Harding (Violin), Ferdinand Erblich (Viola), Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin),
Stefan Metz (Cello), Nobuko Imai (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 4 in G minor, K 516 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin), John Harding (Violin), Ferdinand Erblich (Viola),
Stefan Metz (Cello), Nobuko Imai (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 6 in E flat major, K 614 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  John Harding (Violin), Heinz Oberdorfer (Violin), Ferdinand Erblich (Viola),
Stefan Metz (Cello), Nobuko Imai (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 

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