It's a little unclear why this recording, made in Prague in 1992, demanded reissue. The late Mozart quartets, even more so than the last few symphonies, are tricky works to perform; they are ambitious pieces that, according to the composer's own testimony, caused him trouble during composition. He even left a commissioned set of six quartets unfinished.
Yet the melodic material of the quartets is limpid to the point of naïve simplicity. The combination of odd moods (check out the rather chilly minuet of the String Quartet in D major, K. 575, track 3), contrapuntal snarls, and carefree court entertainment music has thrown greater quartets than the Stamitz Quartet, but a seeming compulsion to make a fresh statement with Mozart adds to the problems inherent in the music. The quartet downplays the basic melodic material through much of the music of these two quartets. It starts off each movement playing unusually quietly, in an almost neutral way. This is risky enough with a composer as melodically oriented as Mozart was, but the further execution of the concept is odder still. The quartet has an unsettling way of emphasizing transitional passages in the music, which even in works as original as these tends to be pretty conventional. The overall impression left with the listener is that the music is choppy, jumpy, and generally devoid of humor -- none of which is right for Mozart's chamber music from any period. The musicians are technically hard to fault, and they are obvious veterans at ensemble playing. Perhaps some listeners will prize these as unusual Mozart interpretations, but all should sample extensively before strapping a credit card number to the Internet mule and sending it off.
|String Quartet No. 21 in D major ("Prussian 1"), K. 575|
|1. Allegretto||Stamic Quartet||7:16|
|2. Andante||Stamic Quartet||4:16|
|3. Menuetto. Allegretto||Stamic Quartet||5:34|
|4. Allegretto||Stamic Quartet||5:36|
|String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major ("Prussian 2"), K. 589|
|1. Allegretto||Stamic Quartet||8:13|
|2. Larghetto||Stamic Quartet||5:28|
|3. Menuetto: Moderato - Trio||Stamic Quartet||7:23|
|4. Allegro assai||Stamic Quartet||3:40|