Mozart: String Quintets in G
On this disc the Chilingirian Quartet, with Yuko Inoue on the second viola, play one of Mozart’s most sublime works, and one that he arranged for string quintet from its original form for wind octet. Much of that work is in Mozart’s sternest vein, but it sounds much better suited to winds than to strings, skilful as the arrangement is. Since this is the second volume of a series, presumably the Chilingirian felt they needed to record it.
The Quintet in G minor, K516, is the most desolate of all Mozart’s works, each of the first three movements being predominantly desperate or anguished, while the last movement begins with a long introduction which is more painful than anything that precedes it, before giving place to a weirdly light Allegro, though there are clear thematic relations between it and the first movement.
The performance here is rather dry, with a kind of crispness which makes the music sound more stoical than distraught, as though Mozart were putting a brave face on things. But that is just what in this work, like the G minor Symphony K550, he is not doing, and the effect is to make the quintet seem stilted, like the conversation of someone trying not to cry. Perhaps that was intended by the players, but I find it unconvincing. Michael Tanner