Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
String Quartet Op.9 No.2, G172 (c.1770) [13:07]
String Quartet in G minor, Op.32 No.5, G205 (1780) [16:36]
Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
String Quartet MS20 [23:15]
Guilet Quartet
rec. 1950 (Paganini) and 1952 (Boccherini)
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 sprung rhythm.
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.
Jonathan Woolf
Guilet - silvery assurance and confidence.