Mozart: String Quartets K458, 465; Adagio and Fugue K456

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart – String Quartets Vol 1
WORKS: String Quartets K458, 465; Adagio and Fugue K456
PERFORMER: Coull Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 040
The Coull Quartet takes an

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expansive view of these pieces,

playing both repeats in the outer

movements. In the case of the

Dissonance and the opening

movement of the Hunt, where

there’s a substantial coda following

the second-half repeat, that’s no bad

thing; but I’m not so sure about the

finale of the Hunt, which seems to

come to a firm conclusion before the

music unsettlingly starts up again.

The Coull players are just a shade

easy-going in the first movement of

the Hunt – an unusually swift Allegro

assai vivace in 6/8 time; and the

trotting inner-voice accompaniment

of the minuet’s lilting trio could

do with a lighter touch. But this is

otherwise a fine performance, with

a warm and expressive performance

of the slow movement and a dazzling

finale. Even better is the Dissonance,

which benefits greatly from a sombre

and atmospheric account of its slow

introduction – a passage that’s often

played too hurriedly. The same two

works are coupled on the recording

by the Leipzig Quartet, again with

all repeats, and although it doesn’t

communicate the same sense of

mystery in that famous introduction,

the performances otherwise have

a stylishness and elegance that the

Coull Quartet can’t quite match.

The Leipzig players also have the

advantage of greater richness of tone,

as well as a warmer recorded sound.

This new disc throws in the fine

Adagio and Fugue, K546, though

the performance of the austere fugue

itself is rather hasty and lightweight.

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Misha Donat