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Thread: Mozart’s Haydn quartets

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    Default Mozart’s Haydn quartets

    I want to get a set of Mozart’s haydn quartets.I have been listening to the qautor Mosaïques set. I do like it but I think I would prefer a slightly warmer sound.Any thoughts or recommendations muchly appreciated

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    There are lots of good sets, but if you want something "warm", try the Quartetto Italiano, or my favorite, the Alexander Quartet:

    alexander.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    There are lots of good sets, but if you want something "warm", try the Quartetto Italiano, or my favorite, the Alexander Quartet:

    alexander.jpg
    This sounds really good. Thanks. I'm looking for a set of these Mozart "Haydn" quartets too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by juliante View Post
    I want to get a set of Mozart’s haydn quartets.I have been listening to the qautor Mosaïques set. I do like it but I think I would prefer a slightly warmer sound.Any thoughts or recommendations muchly appreciated
    The Emerson String Quartet /Hagen Quartet for starters.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by juliante View Post
    I want to get a set of Mozart’s haydn quartets.I have been listening to the qautor Mosaïques set. I do like it but I think I would prefer a slightly warmer sound.Any thoughts or recommendations muchly appreciated
    As it happens there is a recording of these quartets which has a special sound, and you should try to sample it I think. The Talich Quartet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    As it happens there is a recording of these quartets which has a special sound, and you should try to sample it I think. The Talich Quartet.
    Funny - a few years back, on another forum, I saw several recommendations of the Talich. I bought and listened, but was unimpressed. Last week I decided not to go for my mainstays, Quartetto Italiano or ABQ. This time, I quite enjoyed Talich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogerx View Post
    The Emerson String Quartet /Hagen Quartet for starters.
    Much as I love the Hagens, and to a lesser extent the Emersons, I don't think that I'd describe either quartet's playing as "warm".

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    Quote Originally Posted by juliante View Post
    I want to get a set of Mozart’s haydn quartets.I have been listening to the qautor Mosaïques set. I do like it but I think I would prefer a slightly warmer sound.Any thoughts or recommendations muchly appreciated
    These are on modern instruments and from the analog era, but to my ears along with the Mosaiques they have the warmest sound:

    Amadeus Quartet on DG:
    Mozart.jpg

    Italiano on Philips/Decca:
    Italiano.jpg
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Go for Quartetto Italiano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ras View Post
    These are on modern instruments and from the analog era, but to my ears along with the Mosaiques they have the warmest sound:

    Amadeus Quartet on DG:
    Mozart.jpg

    Italiano on Philips/Decca:
    Italiano.jpg
    Yeah these are two I'd probably refer to as warmer readings. The Italliano's were my first set and still one of my faves.

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    If by "a slightly warmer sound" you mean a more lush string sound or greater tonal heft, I'd suggest that you look into the following six quartets, all of whom play Mozart very well on modern instruments:

    1. Alban Berg Quartet, their analogue set on the Teldec label (which some music critics have preferred to the Berg's later EMI digital recordings: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000002S2C...dea_lv_dp_ov_d). The performances are first rate, but the one negative is that the 1970s sound is older than is ideal (nor is the digital sound on their later EMI recordings reportedly ideal, either, as it has come into criticism from certain reviewers):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlif...nKB42eLuKxlxxb
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000024MCP...dea_lv_dp_ov_d

    2. Chilingirian Quartet--The Chilingirians don't play Mozart with the same degree of technical finish and precision as the Alban Berg Quartet, who set a new standard for string quartet playing when they came onto the scene in the late 1970s & 1980s. Nevertheless, I like the Chilingirian's more intimate and relaxed approach to Mozart, as the music making unfolds naturally and sounds more spontaneous to me. Plus, I could listen to their 1st violinist, Levon Chilingirian, play Mozart all day long. The analogue CRD sound is very good, while their last four Mozart SQs were digitally recorded (& not quite as well reviewed by the Penguin Guide in the 1980s):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU6gnWDoCDI
    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...tring-quartets
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00005Y4FS...dea_lv_dp_ov_d
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Quarte...s=music&sr=1-4

    3. Talich Quartet: This is another fine group, as others have pointed out. The original sound on the Calliope label was rather dry, and won't be to all tastes, however, the new remasters from La dolce volta are reportedly an improvement. (But I'd suggest that you sample the sound first before making a purchase.) The Talich Quartet plays with excellent technical skills and precision, like the Berg Quartet, but also have plenty of warmth and spontaneity, like the Chilingirians. (By the way, the new Talich Quartet, which was re-formed by violinist Jan Talich Jr. in 1997, is arguably an even better group: https://www.ladolcevolta.com/en/member/quatuor-talich/.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmyMjqNFeDM
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Comple...s=music&sr=1-1

    4. Melos Quartett of Stuttgart: The Melos Quartet has a fuller, more lush string sound than the other groups on my list (except for maybe the Alban Berg Quartet), and they're well recorded by DG, too--though again, it's another analogue set from the 1970s, so the sound isn't entirely ideal, unless you're listening to the old DG LPs. For me, Mozart's music requires a lighter, more nimble and mercurial approach than the Melos Quartet provides, even though these are very solid, good performances & certainly well played from a technical standpoint:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EguFQOd-ohc
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00000E33D...dea_lv_dp_ov_d
    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...lbum_id=146641

    5. Smetana Quartet, on Denon, Testament/EMI, and BBC Legends. This is one of my favorite string quartets--despite that they were an older group by the time they made their Mozart (& Beethoven) recordings for Denon. For example, the Smetana Quartet wouldn't be one of my top 2 or 3 choices for Beethoven's early, more 'classical' Op. 18 quartets, and yet, they do figure among my top 2 or 3 picks in Beethoven's late quartets. Hence, while they arguably find a deeper musical content in Mozart's SQs than many of their rivals, you may be able to do a bit better from the standpoint of technical address, if you go with a younger, more dazzlingly virtuosic quartet (if that matters to you). Nor frustratingly--for Smetana Quartet fans like myself--did the group finish recording all six "Haydn" quartets (for Denon & EMI), but they came close to it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV5oHcgzlaU
    On LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqOnSxbrw8w
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8TW...VFeEjQ&index=5
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00000DSZE...dea_lv_dp_ov_d
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00091R7YW...dea_lv_dp_ov_d
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000007T05...dea_lv_dp_ov_d
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000007T08...dea_lv_dp_ov_d

    6. Quartetto Italiano--I've liked the Italian quartet's Mozart for the depth of their interpretations, as well; although I tend to prefer them in the last four string quartets, where they most excel, in my opinion. The Philips sound is also better on the group's late quartet recordings than it is for their six "Haydn" quartets. Yet, my sound issues may be partly stereo system dependent, since the Italian's "Dissonance" Quartet does admittedly sound excellent on the following You Tube link (when heard thru my Apple laptop): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuMs8kD5Des

    https://www.amazon.com/Collectors-Mo...c&sr=1-1-fkmr1

    With that said, I've liked Quatour Mosaïques period set of Mozart's 6 "Haydn" Quartets very much, and would count them among my top 3 or 4 choices in this repertory.

    As for individual CDs--including unfinished sets, the Prazak Quartet, Cuarteto Casals, and Merel Quartet have all made excellent recordings of selected "Haydn" Quartets (in addition to the individual recordings by the Smetana Quartet). Fortunately, the Prazak's tendency to over stress accents for expressive purposes, which was present on their Beethoven cycle, doesn't seem to afflict their Mozart (or Haydn), and therefore I'd consider them a top choice here (though I'd sample first). They are also very well recorded on hybrid SACD, which is a plus (especially in chamber music). While Cuarteto Casals uses period bows with modern strings, so their sound is somewhere in between a modern and period group, which, for some listeners, I expect will offer the best of both worlds. I've liked Cuartetto Casals' Mozart (& Haydn Op. 33 set) myself, especially their String Quartet no. 19, KV 465 "Dissonance", which I heard them play brilliantly in concert (it's a favorite quartet of mine). Plus, they've made a very recommendable HIP set of Mozart's early SQs, which don't get recorded all that often (see link below). Here, I prefer them to both the Hagen Quartet & Quartetto Italiano. I've been told that the quartet is planning to finish their Mozart cycle at some point--including the other four "Haydn" SQs, but so far they've not done so. Finally, the Zurich-based Merel Quartet has recorded two of the six "Haydn" quartets--K. 387 & K. 422--for the Genuin label, and no less than Alfred Brendel has spoken highly of this group: "In an age remarkably rich in string quartets of high quality, the Merel Quartet is, in my opinion, one of the very best“. I agree with Mr. Brendel (& btw, how come Andras Schiff is a "Sir" and Alfred Brendel isn't?), although I do miss the wonderful violinist Julia Schröder from the original line up. (I also agree that we're living in a remarkable age for "high quality" string quartets, which was ushered in by such groups as the Alban Berg, Orlando, & Takacs Quartets in the late 1970s & 80s: who, for the most part, raised the general standard of SQ playing to a new level of technical excellence than had been before: via the example they set, and by coaching and mentoring younger quartets, at least in the Berg's case.)

    https://cuartetocasals.com/en/discog...zart-1756-1791
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpumSTiMdUE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rej3hroOXO8
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Early-...music&sr=1-2):
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String...s=music&sr=1-1

    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Quarte...s=music&sr=1-2

    https://www.amazon.com/Haydn-Quartet...s=music&sr=1-4

    (By the way, the Orlando Quartet's recording of the late Mozart SQs K. 575 & 589 on Philips is another treasured Mozart SQ recording of mine: https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String.../dp/B00000E2RU.)

    Other Mozart "Haydn" sets:

    Like the Alban Berg Quartet, the Emerson Quartet plays with a good deal of technical finesse, however, I find their Mozart edgy and dark and strangely neurotic, especially when compared to the more relaxed warmth & congeniality of the Chilingirian Quartet, for example. Nevertheless, I've liked the Emerson's Mozart a bit more on subsequent listening, so I wouldn't call it a bad set, either (as I've done in the past). Plus, they're digitally recorded. However, you have to be open to a more morose view of Mozart, generally, which I wouldn't call warm or charming or light or even lively:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydlRd_nzX5Y

    Nor would I describe the Hagen Quartet's Mozart as "warm", either, since it tends to be rather high strung, & may be too detached and cool sounding for some listeners (?); though they're not as glum as the Emersons. Nor was I overly crazy about the sound that DG gave them, as the strings could grate on me at times, which is a negative. (However, I haven't heard the Hagen's 'remakes' on Myrios, or DVD.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9HlwFVU7D0

    If you find that you don't overly care for any of the above groups, and are intent on buying a digital set, I'd suggest that you additionally look into the sets by the Ysäye and Leipzig String Quartets (although I wasn't crazy about either group myself, at least in Mozart). The Artis Quartet of Vienna may also be worth sampling and reading reviews for:

    --Here's all that I can find of the Artis Quartet playing Mozart on You Tube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUZAMnThGV8
    https://www.amazon.com/Haydn-Quartet...s=music&sr=1-1
    --Ysäye Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTOZ...8f0KsNtEiTMbwg
    --Leipzig String Quartet: https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Ten-Ce...s=music&sr=1-2

    On DVD, the Gewandhaus Quartet offers two superb performances of Mozart "Haydn" quartets--K. 387 & K. 465, which were recorded live in concert. The videos can be seen on You Tube. For me, the Gewandhaus Quartet is one of the best ensembles today for Mozart (as well as Haydn, Beethoven, & Mendelssohn). They play in a string tradition that goes directly back to the time of Beethoven--having been passed down generation by generation from the predecessors of each Gewandhaus quartet--making them the oldest, uninterrupted string quartet in existence, having been formed in 1808. To my ears, you'd have to consider their style HIP on that account, except that they play on modern instruments. Indeed, certain parallels can be drawn between the Gewandhaus Quartet's approach to music and a modern period instrument style:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE-Ro2yqnU0

    Finally, I've not heard the Takacs Quartet's set of these six quartets, but I am a huge fan of their Haydn SQ recordings--especially the Op. 76 & 77 Decca sets, so I'd imagine the Takacs is one of the top choices for Mozart's six "Haydn" Quartets. However, the set is presently OOP & difficult to find on CD (as the current asking price on Amazon is only $540.99!). Here are some examples of their Mozart playing on You Tube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H26VD_QYx0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4yG5dh5uuE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH-iqn3a-1Y
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DBZYt-7BFg

    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String...sr=1-2-catcorr
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-6-Stri...s=music&sr=1-2
    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...cated-to-haydn

    Nor have I heard heard the Alexander String Quartet's set on Foghorn: http://www.musicweb-international.co...orn_CD1985.htm

    I should also mention the Auryn Quartet, whose Haydn (and Faure) I've liked, & who are generally very well recorded by the Tacet label. They've recorded all six "Haydn" quartets, but as far as I can tell only four of the six quartets (K. 428, 464, 387, 421), were released in "Tacet Real Surround Sound & Stereo", which is a good engineering choice for audiophiles (that is, if you like the group):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hU-SnntfEM
    https://www.tacet.de/main/seite1.php...=12&search=yes.

    The excellent Jerusalem Quartet is another quartet to watch out for--if they get around to recording the 6 "Haydn" Quartets, since they've already made an excellent CD of two of the late quartets (coupled with one of the early quartets): https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String...s=music&sr=1-1. Plus, I've enjoyed the group's Haydn recordings.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jan-25-2020 at 23:19.

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    Many thanks all. I think I will try the Italiano’s first given there have been several recommendations for them and they are very close to the top of my favourite recordings for Beethoven is late quartets. And thanks joasquin really helpful and I will certainly Check out the gewandhaus performing k387 as it is one of my favourites.

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    Josquin13 writes:

    The Artis Quartet of Vienna may also be worth sampling
    I'd forgotten about their set, which I found on eBay a year or so ago. I listened to some of it this morning - it is beautifully played and recorded, and certainly would fit the OP's need for "warmth".

    Another set that I remember liking is the Petersen Quartet on Capriccio. I don't remember if it's "warm" or not, but it's on Spotify if you want to check. BTW, their Beethoven quartets - individual discs, almost a complete set IIRC, are also worth hearing.

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