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Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn / Quatuor Mosaiques

Haydn / Mozart / Beethoven / Quatuor Mosaiques
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 8935  
Composer:  Franz Joseph HaydnLudwig van BeethovenFelix MendelssohnFranz Schubert,   ... 
Performer:  Erich HöbarthAndrea BischofAnita MittererChristophe Coin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

QUATUOR MOSAÏQUES Quatuor Mosaïques NAÏVE E8935 (5 CDs: 318:57)
CD 1: HAYDN String Quartets, op. 77/1–3 (62:15)
CD 2: MOZART String Quartets: in A, K 464; in C, K 465, “Dissonant” (76:24)
CD 3:
Read more BEETHOVEN String Quartets, op. 18/1,4 (55:30)
CD 4: SCHUBERT String Quartets: in E?, D 87; in a, D 804, “Rosamunde” (67:50)
CD 5: MENDELSSOHN String Quartets: in E?, op. 12; in a, op. 13 (56:58)

Naïve often releases box sets such as this one, in which several earlier releases are housed together in a cardboard sleeve. Nothing has been changed about the original releases otherwise; the booklets and even the catalog numbers are exactly the same. The price, however, is a fraction of what one would pay for the releases individually. In other words, for those interested in a generous sampler of the Quatuor Mosaïques, this is an outstanding bargain!

Founded in 1987 by four musicians in Concentus Musicus Vienna and still active, this essentially Austrian quartet, with a French name, plays on period instruments. Its members are violinists Erich Höbarth and Andrea Bischof, violist Anita Mitterer, and cellist Christophe Coin. Their repertory is largely composed of works from the Classical and early Romantic eras, but they play 20th-century works as well.

Some of these individual discs have been reviewed in Fanfare —mostly very positively. (The sole negative review, in fact, is from Mortimer H. Frank, whom I do not strongly associate with period-instrument recordings.)

I compared some of these performances with others I had at hand to see how I felt about them. First up was the first of Haydn’s so-called “Lobkowitz” quartets. Perhaps it is unfair or beside the point to compare Quatuor Mosaïques to the Alban Berg Quartet, whose members were not identified with the period-instrument movement. Be that as it may, the first thing that I noticed—apart from the lower pitch used by Quatuor Mosaïques—was the richer, more bass-heavy sound of the period-instrument quartet. In comparison, the ABQ sounded almost artificially bright and shallow. (I cannot completely rule out the role of the engineering in creating this impression.) Furthermore, there is more humor in the playing of Quatuor Mosaïques. For example, they capture the jauntiness of the first movement’s first subject more surely than the ABQ, whose members adopt a rather serious tone. That might be appropriate for late Beethoven, but not for much of Haydn, especially not in this genial work. I have nothing but respect for the ABQ. However, if you want to fall in love with Haydn’s string quartets, Quatuor Mosaïques is preferable.

The Smithson String Quartet, another period-instrument quartet, recorded Haydn’s first two “Lobkowitz” quartets. I don’t have that CD. I do, however, have the Smithson recording of Beethoven’s opus 18 quartets (also dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz), so I compared it to the Mosaiques’s Beethoven CD. Here, the choice is more complicated. The Mosaïques relates these quartets back to Haydn, whereas the Smithson emphasizes that, yes, these works are relatively newly-fledged Beethoven through and through. The decorum maintained by the Mosaïques—and decorum counts for something!—is repeatedly and delightfully ruffled by the Smithson. In short, I found the Smithson more interesting in the Beethoven quartets than I did the Mosaïques. (Now I am going to have to track down that Haydn CD!) That’s not to say that I did not enjoy both ensembles on their own terms.

Given the profusion of larger period-instrument ensembles, the relative dearth of string quartets so identified is a little surprising. (Perhaps they are not given as many opportunities to record.) Thus, regardless of my feelings about individual recordings, I welcome this box set as an opportunity to expand my experiences in this area. I think it is important to state, however, that what makes these five discs worthwhile is not that they contain performances played on period instruments, but that they contain two fistfuls of terrific music that is sensitively performed … and it just happens to be performed in period style. To put it differently, you might come for the gut, but you’ll stick around for the general goodness of it all.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle

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Naïve has been boxing up some of its classic recordings to offer a new wave of listeners a taste of some acclaimed period-instrument performances. Of all the early music chamber groups the Quatuor Mosaïques remains one of the finest, with an appealing basic sonority, weighted toward the bass, that offers ample compensation for the sometimes thin tone of the upper strings and the attendant moderation of vibrato. It’s no coincidence that they sound best in Haydn and Mozart, less convincing in Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, which require greater sonority and sheer drive. This version of Haydn’s Op. 77 quartets remains one of the best. The Mozart Haydn quartets (K. 464/5) are also excellent. Beethoven is represented by Op. 18 Nos. 1 and 4; Schubert by his quartets D. 87 and 804 (No. 13, “Rosamunde”), and Mendelssohn by his Opp. 12 and 13. The sonics are uniformly rich and truthful. An enjoyable sampling.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings in G major, Op. 77 no 1/H 3 no 81 "Lobkowitz" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Erich Höbarth (Violin), Andrea Bischof (Violin), Anita Mitterer (Viola),
Christophe Coin (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/1989 
Venue:  Vienna, Austria 
Length: 23 Minutes 56 Secs. 
2.
Quartet for Strings in F major, Op. 77 no 2/H 3 no 82 "Lobkowitz" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Erich Höbarth (Violin), Andrea Bischof (Violin), Anita Mitterer (Viola),
Christophe Coin (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/1989 
Venue:  Vienna, Austria 
Length: 27 Minutes 44 Secs. 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in F major, Op. 18 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 4 in C minor, Op. 18 no 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
5.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major, Op. 12 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Erich Höbarth (Violin), Andrea Bischof (Violin), Anita Mitterer (Viola),
Christophe Coin (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Germany 
6.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Erich Höbarth (Violin), Andrea Bischof (Violin), Anita Mitterer (Viola),
Christophe Coin (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Germany 
7.
Quartet for Strings no 13 in A minor, D 804/Op. 29 no 1 "Rosamunde" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Andrea Bischof (Violin), Anita Mitterer (Viola), Erich Höbarth (Violin),
Christophe Coin (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Sehnsucht, D 879/Op. 105 no 4 by Franz Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Quartet for Strings no 19 in C major, K 465 "Dissonance" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Quartet for Strings no 18 in A major, K 464 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mosaïques String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Energy and Intonation August 10, 2012 By Brian Leatherman (Centennial, CO) See All My Reviews "These are thoroughly delightful performances, in some cases revelatory. I agree with the reviewer who said the Haydn performances were superlative, but take issue with the assertion that the Beethoven and Schubert missed the extra weight of modern instruments. On the contrary, the clarity and precision of these performances, not to mention the sublime intonation, brought to mind the clarity and perfection of the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell. Bravi tutti!" Report Abuse
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