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Mozart: Clarinet Quintet; Smetana: String Quartet / Hölderlin String Quartet

Album Summary

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A major, K 581
>Smetana, Bedrich : Quartet for Strings no 1 in E minor, T 116 "From my life"
Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Formed in 1989, three members of the Holderlin Quartet are also members of the Wurttembergischen Philharmonie Reutlingen and one performs with the state opera in Stuttgart. The name Holderlin refers to the mission of the quartet, which is to uncover the poetic in the string quartet repertoire.

"I have been attached to the Emerson Quartet reading of this piece for a number of years, but the authenticity of the Eastern-European flavor that the Holderlin presents us with shows what may have been missing in the DGG recording. I love unexpected surprises, and this unusual disc will likely seduce you in the same way I was taken in." -Fanfare



Reviews

MOZART Clarinet Quintet in A.1 SMETANA String Quartet in e, “From My Life” • Hölderlin Str Qrt; Simo
What a perplexing release this is! These are 1990 recordings from a quartet that I know little of, though the Web site www.hbdirect.com does give this information: “Formed in 1989, three members of the Hölderlin Quartet are also members of the Wurttembergischen Philharmonie Reutlingen and one performs with the state opera in Stuttgart. The name Hölderlin refers to the mission of the quartet, which is to uncover the poetic in the string quartet repertoire.” The coupling is, well, odd to say the least, and considering the number of fine Mozart Clarinet Quintets already in my collection, I was almost hoping that this one was going to be a dud; similar experiences in the past with unknown labels and ensembles would seem to back up my thoughts on the subject. Lo and behold, how wrong I was! The Mozart is simply wonderful, about as good as any I have ever heard, with clarinetist Simon Löffelmann (also difficult to pin down even with extensive Googling, though he is a member of the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen also, as solo clarinet) displaying a phenomenally rich and satiny tone, smooth as one could wish for. In fact, each member of this group plays with a tonal luster surely the envy of more noted and accomplished ensembles elsewhere. There are too many of the Mozart on the market to claim a “best ever,” but this one ranks right up there with my personal favorites, among them the Kell/Fine Arts (Boston Skyline), Wright/Marlboro (Sony), Steffens/Scharoun Ensemble Berlin (Tudor), Ensemble 360 (ASV), Moraguès/Pražák (Praga), and Portal/Ysaÿe (Aeon). Any one of the aforementioned is guaranteed to give you enjoyment aplenty, and is among the finest recordings of this work ever laid down. Note especially for audiophiles: the Tudor and Praga releases are surround-sound DSD. Now for the Smetana, the match in this odd couple. This is a finely burnished old-world reading of this popular chestnut, as autobiographical a work as you might find apart from Wagner or Strauss, and one completed just two years after he lost his position as conductor due to hearing failure. We tend to forget that Beethoven wasn’t the only musician so afflicted by a devastating and potentially career-ending misery. Each movement is dedicated to an incident “From my life”: (1) affection for art and life in youth; (2) joyous life of youth, and a composer of some note in dance works; (3) heavenly love of the girl who would become his wife; (4) discovery of musical nationalism, onset of deafness, and a painful feeling at the memory of the beginning of the life journey. Pretty comprehensive, when you think about it—and Smetana does do a fine job of conveying much of the intimacy of these topical considerations. I have been attached to the Emerson Quartet reading of this piece for a number of years, but the authenticity of the Eastern-European flavor that the Hölderlin presents us with shows what may have been missing in the DGG recording. I love unexpected surprises, and this unusual disc will likely seduce you in the same way I was taken in. One caveat: despite the 1990 recording date, this is going for full price. FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
Submitted on 03/01/10 by Steven E. Ritter 
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Works Details

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A major, K 581
  • Ensemble: Hölderlin String Quartet
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1789

>Smetana, Bedrich : Quartet for Strings no 1 in E minor, T 116 "From my life"
  • Ensemble: Hölderlin String Quartet
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1876