Magazine article Gramophone

Mozart: String Quartets-No 14, K387

Magazine article Gramophone

Mozart: String Quartets-No 14, K387

Article excerpt

Mozart

String Quartets--No 14, K387; No 17, 'Hunt', K458

Hagen Quartet

Myrios (F) (SACD) MYR017 (59' * DDD/DSD)

The line between poetry and preciousness is a thin one, and I don't feel the Hagens reliably locate it here. After several hearings I still find the opening of K387 almost intolerable, with phrases artfully caressed and distended, and barely two successive bars played at the same tempo. In their complete DG set of the 'Haydn' Quartets (4/02) the Hagens struck a fine balance between flexibility and the forward motion predicated by Mozart's Allegro vivace assai. Some 15 years later their collective sonority is as elegantly honed as ever. No felicity of Mozart's part-writing escapes them. But with their tendency to cosset and ruminate, the crucial Mozartian filo--that thread of vital energy that should run through the movement--is lost.

If the first movement of K387 is an extreme case, the Hagens' con amore treatment of the 6/8 opening movement of the Hunt rather compromises the music's bounding, alfresco energy. Soft tends to mean slower. The new cantabile theme in the development unfolds as if in a dream--beautiful but enervating, and requiring a sudden spurt when a mischievous little semiquaver figure begins to permeate the texture. …

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