QUARTETTO ITALIANO


Philips - 1 LP - 839 606 - (p) 1967
Philips - 1 CD - 426 099-2 - (c) 1990

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)






The six "Haydn" Quartets - 3






String Quartet (5.) No. 18 in A major, KV 464
33' 39"
- Allegro 6' 48"

- Menuetto
6' 12"

- Andante 13' 28"

- Allegro non troppo 7' 11"





String Quartet (6.) No. 19 in C major, KV 465 "Dissonance"
31' 45"
- Adagio - Allegro
11' 16"

- Andante cantabile
7' 18"

- Allegretto 5' 29"

- Allegro molto 7' 42"





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

 






Luogo e data di registrazione
Thtre Vevey, Vevey (Svizzera) - 14 agosto / 1 settembre 1966

Registrazione: live / studio
studio

Producer / Engineer
Vittorio Negri

Prima Edizione LP
Philips | 839 606 | 1 LP | (p) 1967

Prima Edizione CD
Philips | 426 099-2 | 1 CD - 65' 52" | (c) 1990 | ADD


Note
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The two quartets on this record belong to a set of six which Mozart dedicated to Joseph Haydn in 1785, and which must be included among his finest work. "They are, in fact, the fruit of long and laborious toil," says the composer in his letter of dedication which is couched in terms of warm personal friendship and high professional regard.
As far as the string quartet was concerned any veneration Mozart felt for Haydn was quite understandable. At the time the letter was written Haydn had composed more than 40 quartets which represented most of the significant growth of the form from simple divertimenti for a fortultous combination of instruments without continuo to the highly demanding medium of musical expression we hear here and which not much later was to be the channel of Beethoven's inspiration.
Alongside this musical evolution Mozart himself developed. In his 13 quartets before the "Haydn" set we can see the early influence of the Italian style being superseded by the influence of Haydn's experiments; we see the emancipation of the viola and cello, which become increasingly independent voices instead of stiff and servile accompanying instruments.
But before his quartets reached full maturity, Mozart himself had to win artistic emancipation. The last quartet before the "Haydn" set was written in 1773, when he was in the service of the tyrannical Archbishop of Salzburg. But by the time he began the set in 1782 he had broken free of the court's shackles, had married the woman he loved (against his father's wishes), and had set up home in Vienna, facing the world with little money but with a brave new spirit of independence which helped to make the boy a man and the precocious composer a master of his art.
Strangely, and perhaps significantly, Mozart's inactivity in the field of the string quartet between 1773 and 1782 matches a similar pause in Haydn's quartet output which stopped in 1772 and began again in 1781. In that year he published his famous "Russian" quartets which, he announced, were written "in an entirely new and special way". They did, in fact, display a much greater degree of artistic unity, particularly in close inter-relationship of their thematic material. There is no doubt that Mozart was considerably impressed and influenced by this new step forward in Haydn's work and this was probably the decisive factor in encouraging him to  take up the form again in 1782 with the G major quartet K. 387. In the six quartets of the "Haydn" set we see a new Mozart - a Mozart who looks forward to Beethoven rather than backward to the Baroque. We see him striving for and achieving the unity that Haydn sought in the "Russian" quartets, but in a completely individual way. In the set we often find Haydnesque movements but within their contexts they coulf have been written only by Mozart. Exactly when Mozart conceived the idea of the dedication to haydn is not clear but it seems likely that it was not until the personal acquaintance of the two composers (they first met in 1781) became a close friendship in 1784 when Haydn, then Prince Nicholas Esterhazy's musical director, paid an extended visit to Vienna with the court. On several occasions Mozart was invited to play at the Esterhzy musical evenings and soon both Haydn and he were taking delight in playing chamber music privately together with mutual friends - Haydn playing first violin and Mozart the viola in quartets. By the time this friendship had fully flowered three of the quartets in the "Haydn" set had been written. In spite of this the set as a whole displays a wonderful integration of style, technique and mood and when it was finally presented to Haydn in  1785 he at once recognised the true genius behind it - something to his credit, for he could have had little opportunity before then to assess the real stature of the younger composer. After a performance of three of the works at Mozart's home Haydn drew aside Leopold Mozart, the composer's father who was on a visit from Salzburg at the time, and told him confidentially: "I declare to you before God as an honest man that your son is the greatest composer I know either personally or by hearsay; he has taste and, moreover, complete mastery of the art of composition."
The quartets not only impressed him as a listener and performer; henceforward they were to exert a noticeable influence on his own work - as they were to influence Beethoven when he came to carry the quartet to its spiritual zenith.
The care that the Quartetto Italiano have taken in these recordings in going back wherever possible to the original tempo indications is important. The tendency at the time the quartets were written was towards an increase in pace in the minuet, particularly in the works of Haydn. There is reason to believe, however, that Mozart was concerned about this tendency and that this was reflected in his original tempo indications. Believing that clarity of detail and care in the expression of mood and character rare of first importance in these works the Quartetto Italiano have adhered, for instance, to the "allegretto" markings of the first edition rather than the "allegro" of later editions in general use. It was not a lightly taken step. All the bowings, tempi, and dynamic indications used in these performances have, in fact, been decided on only after the most careful research by the members of the quartet themselves
based on the autograph and first editions and other important contemporary documents. These have been studied and carefully compared with later sources, particularly the Einstein and Brenreiter editions. The result on these records is not so much a performance as a dedicated reappraisal of Mozart and his work.
In many respects these six masterpieces defy analysis. The following notes are intended only to provide ssimple pointers to the artistic profundity and technical complexity of these works and to encourage the listener to give them the close attention they deserve and can so amply repay
.
A. David Hogarth

String quartet in A major, K. 464
The A major, completed on January 10, 1784, was a particular favourite of Beethoven - which is not surprising in view of its superb craftsmunship and unity. It is sometimes called "The Drum" because of a distinctive drumming bass which emerges in the third movement, but it could be argued that this is the result of an intricate rhythmic evolution, which like most of the other outstanding features of the work, beguins in embryo in the first movement. The overall pattern is the division of each subject into two sections (the exception being the contrasting third movement) and the juxtaposition of the two parts in counterpoint. The first movement has, unusually, a short subsidiary theme in C major which introduces the second subject proper. The expsition ends with a reference in the codetta to the main theme's second section and significantly this is included to the ultimate coda in a prominent position. That minuet which follows (will in A), is meraly a framework into which Mozart pours music which is sometimes almost savage in intensity. The first part of the main theme is based on the second section of the previous movement's second theme. Both parts of the minuet and with the rhythmic pattern of the first movement's codetta figure and this appears yet again at the end of the romantic trio theme which offers temporary relief in its lush, swelling harmony. The real relief, however, comes in the third movement which is a theme and variations. The tranquillity of the smonthly flowing theme extends to the variations which seem to grow increasingly independet. In the last variation before the theme returns the cello breaks into its cheerful drumming accompaniment below the sweetly moving upper stringe.
The finale in sonata form, takes us back to the first principles of the first movement. The main subject's first section has the rhythmic form of the opening of the minuet (it is, in fact, an inversion of the minuet's ancestor in the first movement). The second section has the rhythmic form of the second section of the first movement's main theme. It was the heart of this that provided the recurring codetta figure and it is the heart that Mozart wants here. He immediately cuts it out and lets it stand alone. Soon we hear a familiar throbbing from the cello but this time it is a sinister ostinato bass. The second subject (with an antecedent in the second part of the minuet) is so late in appearing that Mozart lets it fulfil a double role in providing the codetta. In the middle of the development we suddenly find ourselves in the lush romantic atmosphere of the trio theme, which Mozart recreates harmonically using the material of the main theme's first section.


String quartet in C major, K. 465 ("Dissonance")
Only four days after completing K. 464 Mozart had finished the "Haydn" set with one of the most controversial and puzzling works in the history of music. Much has been written about its famous adagio introduction with its dissonant entries, which seems out of character with the rest of the work, but its structural significance remains a mystery. There are some pointers to future thematic material but strangely there is as much in common with the finale of the previous quartet (the elements of the main theme are there, for instance, over the ostinato bass).
When the Allegro break into 4/4 we suddenly find ourselves out in the sunshine in a theme of refreshing simplicity. The opening phrase, however, centres round the interval of a third which eventually dominates the rocking triplets of the second subject. The important coda uses a little subsidiary theme originally derived from the second part of the main subject.
In the second movement there are three main elements, an extended and beautifully balanced melody (A), a little bridge figure centring round the third which is constantly repeated (B), and the second subject which recalls certain characteristics of the introduction (C). The form is ABCBABC, like a rondo but with B recurring instead of A. When C reappears, however, it is unexpectedly repeated in a revised form and leads into a coda which combines the bridge figure with a little subsidiary theme on the first violin - fashioned (as in the first movement) from the second part of the first theme.
The minuet and trio provide with their wide intervals relief from the close working of the previous movement. Significantly the minuet ends with another of those singing closes on the first violin.
The finale has a brisk, carefree main theme. The second subject emerges initially as a duet for the violins. The first violin then goes dancing in G major through a maze of semiquavers towards the codetta. But suddendly as it emerges on a lone D there is a stunning modulation to E flat (using the Neapolitan sixth) and we are in the middle of what seems like a new theme. It is, however, the codetta and the "theme" is a cleverly disguised version of the opening of the first subject. Following the pattern of the previous movements Mozart should have used it in the final coda, but by using it here he can resummon it eventually. This he does, letting the cello join in too, and he follows it up with a good old-fashioned theatrical-style coda - a rare occurrence in his mature chamber music - so ending the work with a flourish
.