This is a most useful collection. The most important items (and, in fact, the only truly ‘genuine’ chamber works) are the String Quartet and Lyric Suite. The others are arrangements of more than passing interest (at least the ones by Berg himself) but it is probably the two big works that will interest collectors most.
Hours and hours of delicate masterpieces by the Viennese Classical master, Mozart! The Alban Berg Quartet, Markus Wolf (viola) and Alfred Brendel (piano) perform String Quartets K. 387; 421; 458 ("Hunt"); 428; 464; 465 ("Dissonance"); 499 ("Hoffmeister"); 575; 589; 590; 515, and 516, plus String Quintets K. 515 and 516; Piano Concerto K. 414 (arranged for piano and string quartet by Mozart), and Piano Quartet K. 493.
Recordings that include strings quartets by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern are common, but an album that includes music for quartet and voice by each of them is a rarity. Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, with a part for soprano in its third and fourth movements, is standard repertoire, but the version of Berg's Lyric Suite with a vocal part in the final movement is highly unusual, and Webern's bagatelle with voice, an unpublished movement apparently once intended to be part of the Six Bagatelles, Op. 9, receives what is probably its first recording. Novelty aside, the high standards of these performances make this a formidable release. Founded just before the turn of the millennium, Quatuor Diotima plays with the assurance and mutual understanding of a seasoned ensemble. The quartet has a lean, clean sound and the ensemble is immaculate, playing with exquisite expressiveness, an ideal combination for this repertoire.
The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.
"…The whole disc is a great success. Recording quality is first rate, with the necessary clarity tempered by warmth and just the right amount of resonance. Excellent notes are by Dr. Christopher Hailey. Recommended, even if you still find Webern hard work." ~musicweb-international