MOZART: String Quartet No. 19 in C Major; HAYDN: String Quartet in C, Op. 74, No 1; String Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No. 1; SCHUBERT: String Quartet-Movement in C Minor – Isidore Cohen, violin (Schubert)/ Juilliard String Quartet – Testament

by | Dec 23, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465; HAYDN: String Quartet in C, Op. 74, No 1; String Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No. 1; SCHUBERT: String Quartet-Movement in C Minor, D. 703 – Isidore Cohen, violin (Schubert)/ Juilliard String Quartet

Testament SBT 1372, 76:20 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:

Vintage inscriptions of 1957 and 1959 (Schubert) from the Juilliard String Quartet, then under contract to RCA Victor.  This all-Viennese program shows off the ensemble’s easy confidence and inner repose, especially as the interior voices have Robert Koff and Raphael Hillyer’s projecting the interior lines in Mozart and Haydn.  The buoyant energies in the Mozart remain subdued, so its more audacious harmonic elements do not shock us in the way their original impression may have jolted Mozart’s contemporaries. The facility of execution in the Allegro molto finale impresses us: lithe, straightforward, and unmannered, it still has the players‚ caressing the phrases with virile affection. Haydn emerges the more symphonic concept, a big, hearty sound, rhythmically propulsive.

Robert Mann asserts a jubilant aggressiveness to the concertante element in the C Major. The C Major’s Andantino grazioso unfolds as one moment of eerie beauty in Haydn. The rustic Presto: Finale is a veritable feast of perpetual color, where Claus Adam’s cello adds to the peasant drone and bravura ensemble with distinct fervor.  The G Major Quartet sports a jaunty balance between martial and lyrical impulses. Again, the heart of the movement comes in the expressive Adagio, which offers a baritone melody for the cello which the first violin picks up. Verve and high spirits mark the last two movements, especially in the Trio of the Menuetto, which must have delighted and amused Beethoven, tickling his harmonic fancy in several places.  The Schubert C Minor Quartet-movement plays as a subtle piece of revolutionary canvas, its melodic resignation darkly proceeding while dropping hints of stranger harmonies yet unrevealed. Isidore Cohen’s first violin part sizzles. This is all nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try.

–Gary Lemco

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