Violin: Arthur Grumiaux & Arpad Gérecz Viola: Georges Janzer & Max Lesueur Cello: Eva Czako
“The two last string quintets followed in December 1790 and April 1791, supposedly on commission from a Hungarian said to be the wholesale merchant Johann Tost of Ungarisch-Hrodisch in Moravia, himself an excellent violinist, and the bearer of the dedications of two series of quartets by Haydn of 1789 (51-56) and 1790 (57-62). Since Tost had recently become wealthy by marriage, perhaps Mozart was well paid for these two works, at least. He should have been; both bear all the earmarks of compositions intended for a connoisseur.
“The first, in D major, K. 593, begins with a Larghetto, which juxtaposes the ‘cello (Mozart has not completely forgotten the King of Prussia) and the group of higher instruments; question and answer are repeated at once on a higher step of the scale— a typical beginning for the great instrumental works of the last period (the Piano Sonata in D, K. 576, the fragments of movements for piano, K. Anh. 29 and 30, the Quartet, K. 590, etc.) and a procedure of which Beethoven took careful note, as we see in the String Quartet Op. 59, No. 2, for example. This Larghetto returns at the end of the following Allegro, and leads to a quite short, abrupt conclusion—consisting simply of the eight opening measures of the Allegro. Thus this whole Allegro itself has a somewhat groping, combinative character, with an impetuous development section in two parts, the first marchlike, the second warlike. The recapitulation achieves its effect by means of intensified polyphony. It is a very unusual movement for Mozart, being definitely introductory in character. It leads to a deeply felt Adagio, related to the slow movement of the ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, with three-part responses as in the five-part madrigals of the sixteenth century, and containing the finest polyphonic development. The Minuet is a bit Haydnish—manly, with a concluding canon as a ‘trump card’ and a ‘spiccato’ Trio. The Rondo, finally, is of the richest maturity, with its playful theme, its fugati in which ‘learnedness’ takes on wit and charm without forfeiting any of its earnestness. The beginning of the theme, originally a chromatically descending fifth, gains grace and character by means of a single stroke.” – Alfred Einstein