If they hardly appear in concert compared to the quartets because of their unusual numbers (two violins, two violas and a cello), Mozart’s six String Quintets have nevertheless enjoyed a certain fortune on record, in particular the four ” great” (K. 515, 516, 593 and 614). The testimony of the Alban Berg Quartet obviously comes first.

We are delighted that one of the greatest quartets of our time – Ébène – is joining a long-time friend, the no less exceptional violist Antoine Tamestit (who, incidentally, will be heard with the Violons du Roy on April 14 at the Bourgie Hall) to engrave two of the peaks of the corpus, the Quintets in C major, K. 515, and in G minor, K. 516.

A violist himself, Mozart was an enthusiastic chamber musician and never ceased to take care of the intermediate parts in his works for small ensembles. It is therefore worthwhile to seek out an experienced musician to complete an already formed quartet. In this case, Tamestit plays the viola I part in K. 515, before exchanging roles with his colleague Marie Chilemme (last arrival at the Ebènes) for the other quintet.

What is immediately striking with this new Erato disc recorded in June 2020 at the auditorium of the Seine Musicale, near Paris, is the sound quality, dependent on the expertise of the instrumentalists as well as that of the sound engineers. .

The two allegros of the Quintet in C major are panting, without pressing too much, while the first allegro of the other work presses very lightly on the brakes to establish the climate of anxiety to which the key of G minor invites. The same goes for the two minuets (both marked “allegretto”), the one in C major being articulated lighter than the one in G minor.

If the slow movement of the Quintet in C major remains quite calm for an andante, it nevertheless allows us to admire the viola of Tamestit, particularly highlighted. The adagio introducing the last movement of the Quintet in G minor takes us for its part into a world without hope, before the final explosion in G major.