Mozart: String Quartet No. 14, Spring Gewandhaus Quartet

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Mozart: String Quartet No. 14, Spring Gewandhaus Quartet
Mozart: String Quartet No. 14, Spring Gewandhaus Quartet
The first of Mozart’s six ‘Haydn Quartets’: The Gewandhaus Quartet played the String Quartet No. 14 in G major (K. 387), ‘Spring’, in the historic surroundings of the Rammenau Baroque Castle in 2005.

(00:00) I. Allegro vivace assai
(07:18) II. Menuetto (Allegro)
(15:49) III. Andante cantabile
(23:02) IV. Molto allegro

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was 26 years old when he wrote his String Quartet No. 14 in 1782, after having moved to Vienna shortly before. String Quartet No. 14 is one of the six “Haydn Quartets” that were written between 1782 and 1785 in homage to Joseph Haydn, whom Mozart admired. Haydn’s string quartets Op. 33 had inspired Mozart to write his six quartets and he clearly showed his high regard for the older composer in the dedication of the “Haydn Quartets”, by writing: “al mio caro amico Haydn” (“to my dear friend Haydn”). It is unclear, how exactly the piece came to be referred to as “Spring”, but the quartet’s optimistic opening melody serves as a likely explanation for the nickname.

In a 1785 letter to his daughter Nannerl, Leopold Mozart – the famous composer’s father – recounted Joseph Haydn’s reaction to the string quartets. According to Leopold, Haydn is said to have pronounced the following judgment: “Before God, and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste, and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition.”

It is said that Mozart finished String Quartet No. 14 on New Year’s Eve 1782. 352 days earlier, the year had symbolically opened with the premiere of Friedrich Schiller’s “The Robbers”, which turned the playwright into an overnight sensation and is considered a transitional work between the proto-Romantic ‘Sturm und Drang’ and the classical period. During the same year, another immensely influential poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published his most famous ballad, the “Erlkönig” (which was set to piano by Franz Schubert in 1815). It is within this context that Mozart’s “Spring” is perhaps best understood – as the musical counterpart to the poetic flight of fancy of a new age, and a cornerstone of the acceleration of the Classical style of literature and music occurring during this period.

The Gewandhaus Quartet (also named Leipzig Gewandhaus Quartet) was founded in 1808 and is considered one of the first professional quartets in the world. It is composed of the soloists and concertmasters of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Numerous premieres of quartets by renowned composers have been performed by the Gewandhaus Quartet.

Playing at this concert:
Frank-Michael Erben (1st violin)
Conrad Suske (2nd violin)
Volker Metz (viola)
Jürnjakob Timm (cello)

EuroArts Music International

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