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hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K525 [17:31]
Adagio and Fugue, K546 [7:19]
Divertimento in D, K136 [11:10]
Divertimento in B flat, K137 [8:39]
Divertimento in G, K138 [9:02]
Talich Quartet
rec. June 1977, Notre-Dame-du-Liban Church, Paris
LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV279 [53:41]

The Talich Quartet was ahead of the curve in performing Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik for string quartet. The Amadeus and Budapest had done it before they did, in 1977, and since then we’ve had recordings from the Guarneri, Hagen, Kocian, Shanghai and Takacs, among others. I prefer the chamber version: too many big traditional orchestras just weigh the piece down, and give it false hopes of becoming profound instead of diverting.

The value of this Talich recording, which is vivacious and well-played but maybe not the last word in elegance or grace, is that it comes with three more divertimenti, the unnumbered so-called “Salzburg symphonies”, written by Mozart when he was around 16 years old. Together all of this makes for a pleasing programme, the kind of music you might put on in the morning to gently pull yourself awake, or maybe give as a gift to somebody who believes in the Mozart Effect. The music isn’t essential, but it’s very nice, as you’d expect.

The Talich players aren’t subtle, but they are good, so this makes for an enjoyable 53 minutes. The Adagio and Fugue is a wonderful bonus, though it doesn’t add too much to the playing time. That short time is a remnant of the 1970s and the need to stick to LP length, but you needn’t worry too much about the sound, which I suppose is a little coarse, though never problematic. For many collectors, this will fill a satisfying niche.

Brian Reinhart