What made the Joachim Quartet Special II

Andreas Moser’s biography of Joachim addresses this question. Since Joachim had quite a bit of say in what he wrote, it is interesting to read the list of special qualities:

  1. Joachim’s confidence in his interpretation. “If there was ever an artist who knew what he wanted, it was Joachim.” This came partly from his training and his experience with chamber music from a very young age, but part of it was intuition.
  2. The ensemble understands one another perfectly, to the point that Joachim is not leading the others; rather, they play as a single whole.
    1. Examples of the group excelling in their ensemble work include pieces with fast tempos, such as the first movement of Beethoven’s Harp Quartet (making the pizzicatos sound like the strings of a single harp), or the Scherzo of Op. 131 (piecing together the fragments to make it sound like one line), or the finales of the Razumovsky Quartets.
    2. They also excelled in the interpretation of slow pieces that awaken a reverent mood or deep feeling, such as the variation movement of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, the con sordino Adagios of Mozart’s g minor Quintet, and the Cavatina from Op. 130.
  3. Joachim had an instinctive feel for the stylistic qualities that characterized a work. It’s as if Joachim could hold up a mirror to the composer, who was reflected without any distortion.

Source: Andreas Moser, Joseph Joachim. Ein Lebensbild. Neue, Umgearbeitet und Erweiterte Ausgabe. Berlin, 1908. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015007945754.

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