Mozart's 'Dissonance' Quartet, so-called because of its harmonically-ambiguous slow...
Andrew McGregor 2006
The 'Dissonance Quartet' is one of only two Mozart wrote with a slow introduction, an unsettling sequence that slips and slithers around, without ever alighting on a comfortable key.
It's where the nickname's from, and it's also the key to any fine performance; do you exercise classical restraint and let Mozart's chromatic writing speak for itself, or do you wring every last expressive drop from this extraordinary opening?
The Belcea Quartet pitches itself somewhere between these two extremes, favouring restraint over excess, but so intelligently that you don't for a moment question their approach.
The Belceaseffortlessly recall the dark colours of the opening in Mozart's deliciously melodious Andante second movement; the precision and carefully controlled attack in the Minuet still allows for warmth, and the wit in the finale sparkles against the dark velvet textures that haunt the whole work, and this performance.
Mozarts 'Hoffmeister' Quartet is a lovely companion, with its simpler beauty and elegance delicately captured in a restrained performance that reflects the same care and musicality.
Intonation is immaculate, and the recording draws attention only to the quality of the performances, and never to itself.
One of the best new Mozart recordings for his 250th anniversary year, and it doesn't feel like I'm sticking my neck out even as I write this with 8 months left to run...
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Mozart: 3 Violin Concertos (Andrew Manze)
Mozart: Piano Concertos (Alfred Brendel)
Beethoven: Piano Trios (Florestan Trio)