String Quartet No.19

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

String Quartet No.19 in C major

K465, KV465 • “Haydn Quartet No. 6: Dissonance”

About this work

The last of the six quartets Mozart dedicated to Haydn, K. 465 is officially in the sunny key of C major, but it owes its "Dissonant" nickname to its slow, tense introduction, full of unresolved harmonies over a throbbing cello line. Soon enough, this disorienting Adagio gives way to the first movement's bright, Allegro main matter. The first violin sings out the short-phrased principal theme, which the other instruments soon pick up in contrapuntal imitation. A second, more jittery melody and a third in triplets all become fodder for a brief development section, although it's the first theme, now with a minor cast, that dominates the proceedings until the recapitulation soothes the troubled quartet -- the exposition returning, of course, without the baggage of the "dissonant" introduction.

The second movement, Andante cantabile, wraps itself in warm F major, with all four instruments exploring a variety of highly lyrical thematic passages. Third comes a witty, Haydn-esque Minuet (and one that would influence Beethoven), full of sudden dynamic contrasts and pitting various combinations of instruments against each other. The brief Trio section dips into C minor for an episode of agitated pathos. As it begins, the finale (Allegro) has every indication of being a conventional if quick rondo, but the music continually veers into unexpected harmonic territory, skidding into the minor and fragmenting the themes; this is perhaps a sonata-allegro movement, with the development section split among the episodes of a rondo. Performers may play this as either comedy or drama, but the music is really a bold melding of the two.