“Joyce Yang plays with a full, brilliant tone, definitely aimed at getting the most possible out of the modern piano. The Alexanders play on a matched 1987 set of instruments made by Francis Kuttner. The violin and cello are designed after Stradivarius models. Together the strings produce a rich blended tone… Yang and the Alexanders give us vivid and exciting Mozart, filled with rhythmic verve and wonderful, ahistorical, fleshlike sound. I’m not saying this is the way to play the quartets, but of its type it definitely is highly winning.
In the First Quartet’s opening movement, terraced dynamics by the ensemble offer a sotto voce effect alternating with powerful tuttis. Violinist Zakarias Grafilo leads the strings with unobtrusive elegance. Yang’s pacing leaves plenty of room for the Alexanders to produce a full, breathing sound. The Andante presents a reminder that Mozart was working on Figaro around this time, so we hear hints of the Countess’s music. Yang’s legato here is very beautiful. In the last movement, the ensemble’s approach to the main tune is measured, permitting the subsequent sections to blend in with its mood. The Second Quartet’s Allegro offers a foretaste of Bruckner, with its long lines and subtleties of light and shadow. Maybe there’s an aspect to the atmosphere of Vienna, both weather wise and socially, that accounts for this. The slow movement is filled with pastel colors, as the players pursue delicate tonal beauty, in shadings unavailable on period instruments. In the concluding Allegretto, the ease with which the ensemble elucidates the shifting feelings and moods is a degree of artistry only available to the finest performers.
The CD’s sound engineering is outstanding. … If you like your Mozart chamber music on a large scale, then Yang and the Alexanders are definitely for you. No matter how you feel about their artistic choices, this is music-making of great intelligence, feeling, and accomplishment. Warmly recommended.”—Dave Saemann, Fanfare Magazine