Mozart: Piano Quartet in G minor, K478; Piano Quartet in E flat, K493

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Piano Quartets
WORKS: Piano Quartet in G minor, K478; Piano Quartet in E flat, K493
PERFORMER: Fauré Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5885
Despite its name, the Fauré Quartet is not French, but German. At first, I was taken aback by the players’ ‘clipped’, almost military-style treatment of the opening theme in the G minor Quartet K478. However, the approach accords well with the austere style of the performance. Unlike most ensembles, the Fauré Quartet do not offer the long second repeat in the opening movement of either work. In the case of K478, that repeat has the advantage of throwing greater weight onto the coda, where the music reaches a peak of intensity,

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but the Fauré Quartet generate such tension at the culmination of the movement’s central development section that it’s easy to understand why the players were reluctant to revisit the same territory.

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These are fine accounts, with playing of a phenomenally high standard. In the past I have invoked both the Beaux Arts Trio with viola player Bruno Giuranna (Philips), and the Sony recording by Emanuel Ax, Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo and Yo-Yo Ma as benchmarks. Meanwhile, there has been a superb version from Paul Lewis and the Leopold String Trio: more melancholy than the Fauré Quartet in the G minor’s opening movement, and more scintillating in its major-mode finale. Misha Donat