One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Joseph SCHUSTER (1748-1812)
String Quartets Nos 1-6 (1780)
Quartetto Joseph Joachim
rec. 2001, Chiesa di San Pietro in Lucone, Polpenazze, Italy
PAN CLASSICS PC10379 [59:30]

Joseph Schuster is a forgotten name these days; Presto lists only one other work currently available. He was born in Dresden, but his important musical influences seem to have come from Italy, having made a number of trips to Padua, where he was introduced to the music of Tartini. The musical powerbroker there was the Marquis Giuseppe Ximenes, who commissioned these works. Schuster’s patron in Dresden, the Elector’s daughter Maria Antonia, also had a Paduan connection, with her musical advisor being Giovanni Ferrandini, who spent much time in the Italian city.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of these undoubtedly fine quartets is their connection to Mozart. In 1923, the French scholar Georges de Saint-Foix attributed four of the quartets to Mozart, and until 1964, they were given the catalogue numbers K.Anh. 210-13. The connection between Schuster and Mozart goes even further: Wolfgang complimented Schuster’s music in a letter to Nannerl, and also visited Padua at a similar time to Schuster. However, I think it is more significant in the context of this recording that the works could have been thought to have been composed by Mozart. While few would say that the string quartet is his best genre, this is still Mozart after all. If musicologists were tricked, then it says something about the musical qualities of Schuster’s compositions.

My normal practice when auditioning a new recording is to play it in the background while doing something else. If my attention is drawn to the music, that is usually a good sign, and that happened here. Schuster’s talent for a diverting phrase and interesting conversation between the instruments kept grabbing me. Melody may not have been his strong point, but the rhythms and harmonies are quite original. These are not flashy or frilly works, as is often the case in this era; in fact, they are quite restrained, I might even be tempted to say austere. Of the seventeen movements – Quartet 4 has two, the rest three – only one has a tempo marking faster than allegro, and the first quartet has no allegro at all.

The recording is not new; it was originally released on the Symphonia label in 2001. The performers use period instruments, but for those “allergic” to this, let me assure you that the sound produced, while quite lean, seems very appropriate for this restrained music. With no point of comparison, my only comment on the performances is that they seem to be in accord with Schuster’s intentions. The microphones have picked up quite a lot of breathing, which is not ideal. The booklet notes are quite awkwardly written (or translated) in unidiomatic English. They are very detailed in their tracing of the Mozart connection to Schuster and these works, but the odd phrasing and excessive wordiness make them difficult to follow.

David Barker


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger