One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Availability

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
String Quartet in G major, Op. 77/1, Hob.111/81 [23.48]
String Quartet in F major, Op. 77/2, Hob.111/82 [24:49]
The Heifetz String Quartet
rec. 1950
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR 1013 [48:37]

I have to say from the outset that this is one of the most intriguing discs I have ever come across. The performers are ‘The Heifetz Quartet’ – no connection to the famous Jascha, incidentally. In fact, I’ve never heard of them before and, apart from the two quartets we have here, can find no other recording by them. From the information gleaned from the CD back cover, it is Benar Heifetz (1899-1974) the cellist who gave his name to the quartet. The other members remained anonymous for reasons of contractual obligation to other labels. Benar was Russian-born and will be known to many as the cellist in the Kolisch Quartet. He also featured in some recordings made by the Budapest String Quartet in the 1940s. His other claim to fame was in orchestral work with the Philadelphia and NBC Symphony orchestras. The LP from which these recordings were taken is EMS301. Again, with further research, I drew a blank, and a perusal through my Witteloostuyn LP survey wasn’t much help either.

Setting aside all the mystery, I was astounded by the quality and commitment of these performances. I would hazard a guess, from the immaculate ensemble, musicality and responsive interaction on display, that these players had made music together on many occasions.

The Op. 77 String Quartets were composed in 1799, and were the last compositions in this genre that Haydn completed. They were originally intended as a group of six, but only two were completed. Towards the end of his life in 1803, he composed the two inner movements of the Op. 103 quartet but, due to failing health and other compositional commitments, that project remained unfinished.

The opening of Op. 77, No. 1 is notable for its striking and memorable first subject theme, grabbing your attention from the outset. With a formidable spring in its step, the players capture the robust, march-like rhythm with a captivating joy and swagger. The eloquently phrased Adagio is suffused with lyricism and elegance. The Scherzo has pace, verve and vigour, with the syncopations rhythmically articulated. The playful and humorous finale brings a fitting close to an unforgettable and gripping performance.

Likewise, Op. 77, No. 2 is a persuasive account showcasing the heartfelt commitment of this group of players. I would highlight the delightful Andante, where you feel you are being taken on a leisurely stroll, with the music just carrying you along. This is followed by a finale characterized by gusto, verve and spiky articulation. You can’t fail to be won over by such sparkle, energy and drive.

Digitally re-mastered from LP, the quality of the transfers results in a warmth and ambience conducive to allowing detail and clarity between each individual player to be discerned. I definitely want these two performances to sit on my shelves side-by-side with my other favourites - the excellent Tatrai Quartet on Hungaroton, the Takács and the Quatuor Mosaïques.

Stephen Greenbank
 
Postscript
If anyone has any further information on this elusive group of players, your information would be very welcome.

Availability




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger