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|80213 Budapest String Quartet play Mozart 1 CD Set|
|title: Budapest String Quartet
catalogue no: 80213
bar code no: 744718021321
total timing: 71:59
1) Mozart String Quartet in C, K.465, ?Dissonance?
2) Mozart String Quartet in D, K.499, ?Hoffmeister?
3) Mozart String Quartet in F, K.590
Aficionados of the great string quartet ensembles never tire of making jokes
about the Budapest Quartet, which changed over the course of a decade from an
ensemble of three Hungarians and a Dutchman into a group of four Russians. By
the autumn of 1936, this supposedly Magyar foursome knew no Hungarian except
the words for ?Turn the page? which appeared at crucial points in their parts
? when one of them had to perform this service for a hard-pressed colleague.
But at no stage of its long career was the Budapest Quartet a joke: it was a
very serious ensemble, devoted to bringing the best chamber music ? perhaps the
finest flowering of Western musical art ? to the widest possible audience.
Founded in Budapest in 1917 by four members of the Opera Orchestra, it lost its
founding second violinist quite early on, and his successor left in 1927,
letting in the first Russian, Josef Roisman. In 1931 Mischa Schneider came in as
cellist and in 1932 the founding leader left, Roisman moved up to take his chair
and in came Alexander Schneider, the most exceptional musician ever to play
in the group, as second violinist. With hindsight it can be seen that he should
have led the quartet, but that was never part of the deal and Roisman, an
excellent violinist and musician, did a good job.
When these recordings were made, the quartet was in a stable state but the
founder violist Istvan Ipolyi, with his rather old-fashioned style of playing,
made a strange bedfellow with the three vibrant Russians. No wonder he
eventually had a nervous breakdown and quit. But in the meantime he brought a touch of
old-world musicianship to the viola part. As for the other three, although
they were initially Russian-trained they all had experience in Germany and were
well versed in the Viennese classics. Mozart was to be perhaps the Budapest
Quartet?s key composer, the one in whose music they felt most at home: they
would be recognized as front-rank interpreters not just of the ten mature
quartets, but also the two piano quartets and the six wonderful quintets. The
?Dissonance? Quartet in C, K465, was the first piece recorded under Roisman?s
leadership, on 14 November 1932. At one blow, it established a clear difference
between the old Budapest Quartet and the new. With Emil Hauser as leader, the group
had made a recording of the ?Hunt? Quartet, K458, that was sprightly enough
in the outer movements but amazingly slow in the Minuet. It was the kind of
miscalculation that could happen in the 1920s, when a surprisingly small amount
of Mozart?s music was in the active concert repertoire. By the early 1930s,
the Mozart revival was making its first stirrings ? it would really get under
way with the sesquicentennial of his birth in 1941. The Budapest ?Dissonance?
was the most stylish recording of a Mozart quartet yet made; and this good
start was followed up with the wonderful ?Hoffmeister? Quartet in D, K499, set
down in London on 5 April 1934. Even better, perhaps, was the great F major
Quartet, K590, done on 29-30 April 1935. The Amar Quartet, with Paul Hindemith on
viola, had made a rather miserable recording of this work in the 1920s:
structurally sound, but offering no idea of the sheer size of Mozart?s inspiration.
The Budapest performance, like the other two here, might be short on repeats ?
that was an inevitable corollary of the 78rpm recording system ? but it
scored mightily in style, architecture, beauty of tone and seriousness of purpose.
In most respects, it was Mozart not for the 1930s but for the ages.