Philips - 1 LP - 6500 645 - (p) 1973
Philips - 8 CDs - 416 419-2 - (c) 1990
Philips Duo - 2 CDs - 456 058-2 - (c) 1997
Philips - 37 CDs - 478 8824 - (c) 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

String Quartet No. 13 in D minor, KV 173
16' 14"
- (Allegro ma molto moderato) 5' 26"

- Andantino grazioso 3' 22"

- Menuetto 4' 02"

- (Allegro) 3' 24"

Divertimento in D major, KV 136
12' 40"
- Allegro
4' 06"

- Andante 5' 48"

- Presto 2' 46"

Divertimento in B flat major, KV 137
10' 10"
- Andante
5' 47"

- Allegro di molto 2' 24"

- Allegro assai 1' 59"

Divertimento in F major, KV 138
11' 32"
- (Allegro) 3' 37"

- Andante 6' 00"

- Presto 1' 55"

Adagio and Fugue in C minor, KV 546
8' 48"
- Adagio 4' 37"

- Fuga 4' 11"

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


Luogo e data di registrazione
La Tour-de-Peilz (Svizzera) - 7 luglio & 3 agosto 1972

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer
Vittorio Negri

Prima Edizione LP
Philips | 6500 645 | 1 LP | (p) 1973

Prima Edizione CD
Philips | 416 419-2 | 8 CDs - (3°, 1-4) | (c) 1990 | ADD | (KV 173)
Philips Duo | 456 058-2 | 2 CDs - (2°, 9-10) | (c) 1997 | ADD | (KV 546)
Decca | 478 8824 | 37 CDs - (15°, 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-11) | (c) 2015 | ADD | (KV 136-138)


D minor, the key of the string quartet recorded here, was considered one of the “passionate” keys in the Classical period – not so much so as G minor, perhaps, that being the most portentous of key-centres to a late eighteenth-century composer, but still sufficiently sombre-sounding to ensure that we shall find this early Mozart quartet very different from its immediate predecessors, K. 168 to K. 172. Yeti t seems to have been written in conjunction with them, at much the same time and place, i.e. in the late summer of 1773 in Vienna. The first movement is turbulent in a rather curious version of sonata form; it is based on two main themes, one heard in the first bar sas a kind of wistful downward motif, while the second is an angry-sounding rhythmic passage, not unlike the main theme of the much later overture to “The Magic Flute.” There is much chromatic, contrapuntal handling of this material, especially of course in the brief but telling development section. In the Andantino which follows, as a sort of slow movement, all thought of gloom is brushed aside and we are suddenly and unexpectedly plunged into D major, as if Mozart wished to show u show to write an entertaining movement in a minor-key work. This Andantino is like a gavotte-en-rondeau, as if it had come straight from a serenade written for the Archbishop of Salzburg’s delectation. The Menuetto brings us back again to the sombre D minor home key, with some sinister inflections, dispelled to some extent by the happy-sounding trio in F major. The finale,  with its grimly chromatic fugue subject, is no light-hearted rondo or lively sonata-form movement, but just this sombre and powerful fugue, in which the young genius displays his complete mastery of counterpoint at its most sinister. A masterpiece indeed, but what did the Archbishop think?
The three delightful divertimenti for strings, K. 136-138 (Einstein 125 a-c), composed in Salzburg in the early months of 1772, when Mozart was still only 16, are printed in the complete Mozart Edition as a sort of appendage to the string quartets. They are entitled “Divertimenti” on the score, but they can be played either as orchestral pieces or as string quartets; they come off remarkably well in either guise. They are sometimes called “Three Salzburg Symphonies,” but there is no particular evidence for this, except that they follow the Italianate “sinfonia” form. But they make charming chamber music, too, of a very light-hearted kind, being among the happiest and most easy-going of all Mozart’s youthful instrumental works.

This brilliant little work is indeed very much like an Italian sinfonia. In the sonata-form opening movement the themes are bold and very orchestral-sounding, and there is a development section of 28 bars – quite long for early Mozart. The Andante is really a slow polonaise, with a noble main theme, truly in Keeping with the dignified eichteenth-century idea of the grand Polish national damce. The finale is a jolly 2/4 Presto, full of good humour and lively tunes.

To moderne ars this piece seems to turn the sinfonia form upside down, for it opens with an Andante, after which comes what should have been the first movement. But this was a not unfamiliar sequence of movements to eighteenth-century musicians – there are many of the 1760’s and 1770’s which open with a slow movement. The opening movement is exquisitely melodious, with long-drawn themes ending in galant cadences. Then comes the bustling Allegro di molto, in perfect classical sonata form and with bold orchestral-type themes. The finale is a very lively minuet.

The opening movement is particularly gay and tuneful, of the kind of which “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” is the perfect example; the last phrase of the exposition is actually very reminiscent of a corresponding phrase in the first movement of the “Nachtmusik,” The Andante is a beautifully poised slow tune, again with galant cadences to the phrases. For the finale Mozart gives us a very gay little rondo with some witty episodes.

Mozart composed this work, in the form here recorded, in 1788, but the fugue already existed as one for two keybord instruments – he merely transcribed it in string-quartet form to follow the prelude as a magnificent piece of learned “Ancient Style” music. The fugue subject is dramatic, almost sinister – so much so that when the amateur Polish composer Prince Radziwill composed his operatic setting of “Faust,” he coolly “borrowed” Mozart’s fugue, in toto, for his overture, as being far more expressive of Goethe’s grand drama than anything he could possibly compose himself – a curious kind of compliment, but one which does show how Mozart was regarded, as far as his later works were concerned, as an almost Romantic composer.
Charles Cudworth

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 team work in music.
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 publicy 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.