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Mozart: String Quintets / Philip Dukes, Nash Ensemble

Mozart / Nash Ensemble / Dukes,Philip
Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67861   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MOZART Complete String Quintets Nash Ens; Philip Dukes (va) HYPERION CDA 67861/3 (3 CDs: 176:14)


It is universally agreed that the last five of Mozart’s string quintets, after the youthful Quintet in B?, are among his greatest masterpieces. Yet while I have a large stack of recordings of the quartets, there are many fewer recordings of the quintets. (It’s that pesky extra violist.) In my collection I keep coming back to two sets, that by the Budapest Quartet recorded in the 40s and in 1956, and the Grumiaux Read more recordings from the early 70s. I thought the Budapest recordings were just about perfect until I heard the Grumiaux, which added a tonal opulence (and certain repeats) to the stylish, moving, and, when appropriate, lively playing of both groups. The Nash Ensemble is just about as good and the recorded sound is better. There are infinite small differences, and some larger ones. Grumiaux is, it seems to me, more dramatic: His group’s playing is somehow more portentous in, say, the first movement of the great G-Minor quintet. Grumiaux’s tone is more plangent than is Marianne Thorsen’s, there and in the strangely melancholy adagio that begins the last movement. Thorsen is restrained, almost distant, and the effect is eerie. Both approaches are effective: Grumiaux seems passionate from the beginning and Thorsen seems to work into a passion from relative calm. I can imagine listeners preferring either; I am happy to have both. I certainly admire the restrained expectancy with which the Nash Ensemble begins the Quintet in D. They sound patient, perhaps, more so than Grumiaux. The quicker movements show how precise they are without being in the least fussy. They also always sound stylish, even elegant. Their ensemble works perfectly together and with a warm, engaging sound. I find them easy to recommend.


FANFARE: Michael Ullman
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 1 in B flat major, K 174 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1773; Salzburg, Austria 
2.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 2 in C minor, K 406 (516b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 3 in C major, K 515 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 4 in G minor, K 516 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 5 in D major, K 593 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello no 6 in E flat major, K 614 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Philip Dukes (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 

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