The Guilet Quartet was led by Daniel Guilet, later to become
violinist in the Beaux Arts Trio. By 1952 the second violinist
was Roger Chermont, violist George Grossman and cellist Daniel
Soyer who, with Guilet, is the best remembered of the foursome.
When these recordings were made in the years 1950 to 1952 the
quartet was in fine estate and these restorations have been
unfussily but well managed to show the fact.
Boccherini quartets were not wholly new ground on disc by 1952.
Groups such as the Pascal, Italian, Poltronieri, Rome, Roth,
Kreiner, York and Belardinelli quartets had all made contributions
of some sort, though admittedly some were on hard-to-find 78
sets. The Guilet went for two less well-known works starting
with Op.9 No.2 to which they bring quite an intense and sonorous
strength, and a raft of expressive touches, canny dynamics and
flexible, lighter bowing when required. Maybe the more raffiné
touches are overdone in the central Larghetto, but its
forlorn character is certainly enhanced by such gestures, not
least the rich portamenti. The finale, meanwhile, has a delightfully
The Guilet was a stylish quartet and style defines their performance
of Op.32 No.5. The quartet brings a luscious quality to the
Andantino, and pertinent colour to the finale, including
its unusual quasi-cadential passage.
Paganini’s chamber music was also not often recorded in
the post-war period. His violin music continued to be mined,
of course, but only the York Quartet, who also recorded Boccherini,
seems to have recorded anything before about 1950, and then
on the American Royale label which, whilst an exploratory one,
was not the most obvious source. Whereas the Boccherini Quartets
were recorded by Classic, the Paganini was on Concert Hall,
and also Guilde Internationale Du Disque. It’s a boxier
recording than the companion works. This 1950 disc catches the
group at an earlier stage in its personnel with both inner seats
changed. Second violinist here is Henry Siegl, and the violist
is Victor Schoen. This work has a droll, deft concertante part
for Guilet, a role that had allowed Paganini to preen and pirouette
above his accompanying fellows. Guilet shows throughout, and
especially in the finale, that he possesses silvery assurance
and confidence sufficient for the job in hand.