Philips - 1 LP - 6500 241 - (p) 1971
Philips - 8 CDs - 416 419-2 - (c) 1990

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

String Quartet No. 20 in D major, KV 499
29' 15"
- Allegretto 10' 05"

- Menuetto (Allegretto) 2' 59"

- Adagio 9' 06"

- Allegro
7' 05"

String Quartet No. 21 in D major, KV 575
24' 38"
- Allegretto
7' 25"

- Andante 4' 50"

- Menuetto (Allegro) 6' 07"

- Allegretto 6' 16"

- Paolo Borciani, Elisa Pegreffi, violino
- Piero Farulli, viola
- Franco Rossi, violoncello


Luogo e data di registrazione
La-Tour-de-Peilz (Svizzera) - 20-30 luglio 1971

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer
Vittorio Negri

Prima Edizione LP
Philips | 6500 241 | 1 LP | (p) 1971

Prima Edizione CD
Philips | 416 419-2 | 8 CDs - (7°, 1-4, 5-8) | (c) 1990 | ADD


With the six quartets dedicated to Haydn between 1782 and 1785, Mozart openend a new era in his sring-quartet writing after a pause of nine years. One and a half years later the String Quartet in D, K. 499 followed. Its completion can be dated exactli - from the list "Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke" that Mozart had been keeping since 1784 - as August 19 in 1786, the year of "Figaro." The work is, however, closer to the Haydn quartets in character. Although a buffa sound may echo in the simply written unison theme of the first movement and in the stammering start of a finale full of humour, the whole work is like its predecessors, the "fruit of long and hard work." Mozart's "dedicated bias to the difficult and unusual" (a reproach made by Cramer's Magazine) sprang on one hand from his analysis of Haydn's "Russian" Quartets (1781), which were written in "a new and special way," and on the other from  his studies of the works of Handel and J. S. and C. P. E. Bach which he had come to know better after 1781 at the home of Baron van Swieten. As a result he had completely mastered thematic-morif composition and free-contrapuntal writing, for which the "new" type of string quartet offered ideal possibilities. Mozart used these methods frequently in the K. 499 quartet. Thus in the first movement the motifs from the main theme appears again and again in many rearrangements in all four voices and in the trio of the minuet the voices are interwoven contrapuntally like fine lacework.
This quartet was published in 1788 by Hoffmeister in Vienna, not in a set but alone - something unusual at the time. Anton Franz Hoffmeister, who later founded a wellknown publishing-house in Leipzig but who at that time still ran an art and music business in Vienna, had made a contract with Mozart to publish a series of his chamber works. But when the first of the series appeared, the Piano Quartet, K. 478, he complained that the piece was too difficult and would sell badly. Mozart released him from the contract but by all appearances must have had to repay the advance payment with his quartet.

Mozart's financial misery worsened after 1788 due to his wife's illness. In April 1789 he eagerly accepted the offer of Prince Carl Lichnowsky to accompany him on a journey to Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, and Prague from which he hoped his finances would improve. His expectations were not fulfilled and he wrote to Constanze: "My dearest wife, on my return you must take more joy from seeing me than from seeing the money." He continued, however, to receive commissions from Frederick William II of Prussia: six easy piano sonatas for Princess Friederike and six quartets for the king. Mozart applied himself to the work immediately on his return and completed the first quartet, the D major, K. 575, in June, 1789; in his list "Verzeichnüss" he noted it "for His Majesty the Kinf of Prussia." Of the six quartets planned only two more appeared he died (K. 589 and K. 590). On June 12, 1790 he wrote to his Masonic brother Michael Puchberg: "In my present circumstances I am forced to give away my quartets - this fatiguing work - for a ridiculously low sum just to have money in my hands." The three Prussian Quartets were published at the end od December 1791, shortly after Mozart's death, by Arteria and Co. of Vienna.
The String Quartet, K. 575 shows no trace of the misery of Mozart's life and the foreground is filles with unclouded melodies. With due consideration to the commissioner, who was an outstanding cellist, the cello appears repeatedly in a dominating position, carrying the melody. Research has shown that the themes of the first two movements stem from the early 1770's. Thus the theme of the Andante which seems to echo "The Violet" has, in fact, no direct connection with that famous song, composed in 1785. It is significant that two themes from earlier movements are united in the finale to form a new subject; this results not only in the richly thematic nature of the finale but also in the organic unity of the work as a whole
Shin Augustinus Kojima

The "Quartetto Italiano" is deservedly one of the most renowned quartets of our time. It was as long ago as 1945, soon after completing their studies, that Paolo Borciani, Elisa Pegreffi, Piero Farulli, and Franco Rossi, resisting the tempting promise of individual careers as soloists, decided to pool their youthful enthusiasm and musical talent and devote themselves to the difficult but satisfying art of playing chamber music really well. By 1947 the group had established a firm reputation in  the musical press and begun giving concerts outside Italy. In 1951 they visited the United States for the first time, and it was soon apparent that their devotion to their music and the impeccable standards of performances they had set for themselves were earning them fame as well as satisfaction. Over the years since 1945 they have remained together, a rare example of teamwork in music and something unique as far as quartets are concerned. Teamwork in performance, too has contributed greatly to their success. Their principle of thoroughly memorising their music and playing wherever possible without scores has enabled them to perform with astonishing unanimity and a precision which is unequalled in their field.
To list the group’s wide-ranging activities in more than 25 years is pointless: they have done everything one might expect of one of the world’s finest quartets. They have given hundreds of concerts all over Europe and in the United States; they are regular partecipants in the chamber-music concours of many countries; and they have played and are in constant demand at the world’s great music festivals. Outside the concert circuit the members of the quartet teach chamber music at both the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and the Conservatoire in Vienna.
In addition to the many words of praise bestowed on them – after their first concert in New York, Virgil Thomson, the distinguished critic of the “New York Herald Tribune,” called them “the finest quartet, unquestionably, that our century has known” – they have been publicly honoured by the President of Italy as a more tangible recognition of their outstanding artistic services over the years to  Italy in particular and the world of music in general.