Mozart: The “Prussian” String Quartets
Chiaroscuro Quartet (BIS)
(scroll down for English review)
Other than her solo activities Albina Ibragimova is striking a distinctive chamber bypass with her Chiaroscuro Quartet. They have been releasing CDs of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven on BIS, and they seem to be part of complete surveys of each composer. Yet the Chiaroscuros prefer not to concentrate on one composer before going onto another.
Perhaps the most significant part of their pursuit is the HIP-sound. I listened to a couple of their CDs before but didn’t review them. With this set of Mozart’s “Prussian” quartets I finally found what I enjoyed. The vibrato-less (or almost) white tones were often played with minute fluctuations on the bowing arm and rarely sounded dull. At times they sounded livelier than the “normal” string sound when a player simply shakes mindlessly.
We all know how flamboyant or bouncing Mozart could sound but the Chiaroscuros brought a sensuous tenderness which points perhaps to Chopin or Schumann. My complaint was that they often overdid the caress and pampering, and the sound all but shrank to nothing.