As I continue my exploration of today's (younger) string quartets, I came across a group new to me - the Armida Quartett playing Mozart. I was instantly intrigued because I recognize their handsome cellist as being a principal in the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, whose wonderful YouTube concerts I watch all the time.
At first, the Armida Quartett's Mozart is interesting in a way that makes one wonder, well, is this really the way it was played in Mozart's day? I'm just not sure Mozart would wholly approve.
There's an iciness to violin sound, sans vibrato, and a somewhat lightweight tone from the viola and cello - a playing style lots of groups adopt in an attempt to mimic "period" performance practice. But the Armida Quartett don't go overboard with it and their approach is rarely annoying. Where it can become bothersome, though, is during lyrical passages, where their tone occasionally takes on a somewhat deadpan, almost expressionless quality. However, it isn't severe; nor is it unmusical. Overall, most notable is the freshness of their crisp articulation, alert tempos and wide dynamic range, helped by clean, clear recorded sound.
I can't deny I was rather put off by their Mozart at first, but am warming up to it during subsequent hearings. This is a 2-disc set from 2020, Volume 3 (of 4) from BR Klassik. If I'm not quite ready to purchase the others in this series, I am keeping an eye on this young string quartet. There is a notable perfection and dynamic range to their playing, along with a unified ensemble, which ought to be most impressive in contemporary repertoire. I hope they will record more music soon.