Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Sacred String Quartets

Mozart/Lichtenthal Requiem

Quatuor Debussy

Decca 480 1938

Transcribed for string quartet in 1802 by Peter Lichtenthal, and touched up by these players, the Mozart Requiem makes for an unexpectedly satisfactory listening experience without voices.

Concerning a comparable project, Haydn complained about the difficulty of composing eight consecutive slow movements to depict The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross that would not "fatigue the listener". And that was about his first version, for full orchestra...

Similar misgivings preceded hearing this Mozart transcription, but they were quickly allayed, partly becuase there aare fast and dramatic movements amongst the twelve pieces here, which make an inspiring 'new' string quartet which warrants a place in the chamber music repertoire.

It is well recorded (Lyon, 2008) and supplemented by a persuasive account of this unfinished masterwork from Mozart's last year.

Haydn The Seven Last Words
Op. 51, no. 1-6 Hob III: 50-56

Scaramouche Quartet

Coviello COV 20905

Even more questionable in prospect is Haydn's quartet version of The Seven Last Words, published in 1787 and "probably scored by Haydn himself, or at lease authorized by him" (Thomas Jacobi). This new string quartet, dedicated to performing quartet literature on period instruments, makes a strong case for these slow movements, each undeniably beautiful and compelling in these performances.

But you won't want to listen to them straight through. For those who get to the end, there is a final Earthquake - presto e con tutta la forza !

Peter Grahame Woolf