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Mozart: "Haydn" Quartets Vol 1 / Prazák Quartet

Release Date: 01/08/2008 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 250242   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prazák String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


MOZART String Quartets: in d, K 421, in B?, K 458, in C, K 465, “Dissonant” Pražák Qrt PRAGA 250242 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 80:24)

Read more /> The current entry represents exceptionally good value for the money: three of Mozart’s so-called “Haydn” quartets, with repeats taken, contained on a single disc that pushes up against the time limits of an audio CD. The playing by this long-established Czech ensemble—Václav Remeš and Vlastimil Holek, violins; Josef Kluso?, viola; and Michal Ka?ka, cello—is well disciplined, while still managing to convey a sense of spontaneous robustness. Interpretively, however, the Pražák presents us with a view of these works that might not be to everyone’s liking.

My own admittedly subjective objections are to tempos, which seem a bit hurried—could this have been dictated by the decision to fit three quartets onto a single disc?—and an approach to phrasing that strikes me as somewhat clipped and choppy. The latter becomes particularly noticeable leading up to cadence points and in passages where the music broadens into an expressive mode that would normally call for a slight drawing out and more legato bowing. An example is the heart-rending second theme in the first movement of the D-Minor Quartet—its first time appearance occurs at 1:03. Here it is sailed through with no variation in tempo and with the poignant phrase endings dropped off as if the feeling they express imparts no special meaning.

While the Pražák is a modern-instruments group, the style they have adopted, at least for Mozart, seems to have been influenced by the practices of period-instruments ensembles. This release may thus appeal to those who appreciate Mozart played this way more than I do. As stated above, this is a subjective reaction. I find no fault with these performances other than those that are attributable to matters of personal preferences. On those grounds, my own recently reviewed reference recordings for Mozart’s “Haydn” quartets (28:5, 30:1, and 30:5) continue to be those with the Klenke Quartet on Profil.

Again, I do not wish to be guilty of inventing flaws in the Pražák’s readings of these scores that are purely creations of my own personal tastes. If you like your Mozart on the brisk and somewhat astringent side, this CD can be highly recommended. On the other hand, if you lean towards a slightly warmer, more expressive approach, you may find yourself marveling more at the technical prowess of the Pražák players than at the magic of Mozart’s music. This one is hard call. Recording is excellent.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 15 in D minor, K 421 (417b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prazák String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783; Vienna, Austria 
Quartet for Strings no 17 in B flat major, K 458 "Hunt" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prazák String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Quartet for Strings no 19 in C major, K 465 "Dissonance" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prazák String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 

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