Youthful brilliance

Eric Levi welcomes Jerusalem Quartet's revisionist early Mozart

Mozart scholars tend to regard the majority of the composers's earliest quartets as of a little consequence. Not so the Jeusalem Quartet, who open this captivating release with a beautifully sculpted C major, K157. Observing every repeat in this three-movement work might seem counterproductive, inflating the musical argument beyond its modest proportions.

Yet the Jerusalems overcome the problem by drawing one's attension to different musical details second time round. Tempos troughout are admirably judged and the interaction between each individual line sounds toatally natural. Thus the opening Allegro is projected with all the requisite grace and elegance, the central operatically inspired C minor Andante sounds deeply affecting without recource to exaggerated interpretative gestures, while the Presto finale fizzes along with high-spirited youthful energy.

The Jerusalem Quartet's approach, balancing full-blooded tone with exemplary contrapuntal clarity and a sure sence of structual direction, brings even greater musical dividents in the two mature quartets. Once again decisions regarding tempo and the delineation of inner musical details seem totally convincing. A good example is the Adagio of the Hunt, K458, where the Jerusalems adopt a broadly spacious speed which enables every expressive gesture to make its impact without any hint of dragging.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Finale is delivered at a high-octane pace but never sounds rushed. In the Prussian , K589, a spesial delight comes in the middle section of the Minuet in the form of unexpected harmonic twists and bursts of virtuosic energy.

BBC Music Magazine

Issue: April 2011