Aureole etc.

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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete String Quintets, Volume 2

Quintet in C minor, K406
Quintet in C major, K515

Ensemble Villa Musica
Rec 3-5 Nov 2000, Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen
MDG 304 1032-2 [59.03]

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This is the second volume in the Ensemble Villa Musica's complete set of the Mozart string quintets, and these two works were recorded in November 2000, immediately after the first and last of these pieces (K174 and K614), which were issued as volume one earlier this year.

The string quintets are perhaps Mozart's most significant achievement in the field of chamber music, so any new recordings are worthy of enthusiastic attention. The featured works here are the first and the last of the series, date from 1787, although K496 is a little problematic as far as its date of composition is concerned, being ascribed too early a Köchel number. In any case this is a transcription rather than an original composition, being an arrangement of the Wind Serenade in C minor, K388. The music works well enough in its new format, though in truth the subtleties are not as abundant as in the other mature string quintets.

The quintet medium gave Mozart the opportunity to enrich his chamber music thinking with the addition of an extra cello to the foundation of the string quartet. Enrich is the right word too, for he played the viola himself, and was often fond of using divided violas in orchestral works, two tell-tale signs that the subtle addition found in these quintets would bring special results.

The opening movement of the C major Quintet is a magnificent inspiration, one of Mozart's greatest achievements in chamber music, with an ideal balance between activity and poetry. The Ensemble Villa Musica does the music proud, aided by a recording which is atmospheric and full of presence. It really is of 'demonstration quality'. The quality of the sound has a musical advantage, moreover, since the details in the texture and the rich sonorities are heard to full advantage. The remainder of this Quintet maintains these standards across a variety of musical approaches, including a charming minuet and a lyrically inspired slow movement.

The booklet contains detailed supporting information and is nicely organised. In all this is a most attractive issue in what is becoming an important chamber music collection.

Terry Barfoot

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