Despite its genial key, the quartet opens in restraint, a movement of delicate sighing figures and an extensive development section. The Minuet movement stands in second position, as it does in two more of the six “Haydn” quartets. This one offers quick dynamic contrasts, major-versus-minor shading between minuet and trio, mild chromaticism, and the accustomed rhythmic play. The subsequent Andante cantabile is in C Major, and also in 3/4 time: it is a slow-movement sonata form of ornamented lyricism and, as one critic well put it, “rich passages of musical embroidery.”
The half-brilliant, half-pensive finale, in cut time, tips the balance of K. 387 toward the back of the work, with the marvelous use of fugues and the melding of fugue technique and sonata form. Musicologists may stress the historical implications of a Classical- era composer deliberately employing the then-outmoded fugue (a product of the Baroque era), but the important thing is how right, and how classically minded – i.e., how non-archaic – these fugues sound in Mozart’s hands. The movement in fact contains two fugues, plus a happy- go-lucky, comic opera-style closing theme group that comes out of nowhere to tie things together like a colorful bow.
©Peter Kristian Mose