Hungarian Quartet: Beethoven String Qt No 7 Op 59/1 'Razumovsky' - La Voz de su Amo LALP 162
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Jacket VG / LP VG / Spanish pressing
This handsome LP from Spanish HMV · La Voz de su Amo (LALP 162, Spanish pressing, red/silver label – ED1, mono) features the Hungarian Quartet in a magnificent account of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 in F Major Op. 59 No. 1 'Razumovsky', taken from their complete cycle recorded at Studio Magellan, Paris, in 1953.
This Beethoven String Quartet cycle by Le Quatuor Hongrois won the 1955 Grand Prix du Disque de l'Academie Charles Cross. At this time, the Hungarian String Quartet was composed of Zoltan Szekely (1st violin), Alexandre Moskowsky (2nd violin), Denes Koromzay (viola), and Vilmos Palotai (cellist) – one of the finest quartets of the last century.
In the authoritative liner notes penned for the Testament CD re-issue of the other two Beethoven ‘Razumovsky’ Quartets (Nos. 8 & 9), the great Tully Potter wrote:
“The title Hungarian Quartet was borne by two great Budapest string ensembles in the first three quarters of the last century. The first, led by Imre Waldbauer, was formed in 1910 to play the chamber music of Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Leó Weiner - the trio of composers who, in addition to the slightly older Erno Dohnányi, were to carry the flags of Hungarian music and musical education for several decades.
“The Hungarian Quartet toured within Europe and its members, who included the violinist János Temesváry and the cellist Jeno Kerpely as well as several first-rate violists, were very influential. Sadly, no records were made of that ensemble.
“In 1935 a New Hungarian Quartet was formed by violinists Sándor Végh and Peter Szervánsky, violist Dénes Koromzay and cellist Vilmos Palotai. Owing to clashes between the violinists, Szervánsky was soon replaced by László Halmos. The young men made a start on a classical repertoire but specialized in new music including works by Jerzy Fitelberg from Poland, the Englishman Alan Bush the Frenchman André Jolivet and the Swiss Wladimir Vogel, as well as young Hungarian composers from Kodály's class such as Sándor Veress.
“One evening in 1935 Koromzay visited his old teacher Waldbauer with his friend the composer Pál Kadosa to play bridge. "When I entered his living room I saw that there on the piano lay a new Bartók manuscript," Koromzay reminisced to the cellist and writer Claude Kennison. It was the Fifth String Quartet, which Waldbauer and his colleagues had to learn so as to give the first Hungarian performance. Koromzay asked to borrow the score for a few days and next morning appeared with it at his quartet's rehearsal. Their composer friends Kadosa and Veress offered to copy the score and the quartet members wrote out their individual parts from this copy. Koromzay then returned the original to Waldbauer without comment. Having worked furiously on the piece for three or four weeks, the New Hungarian Quartet offered to play it for Bartók. He decided to coach them in it and after ten days, offered them the first Budapest performance. This piece of skulduggery set the young ensemble on their road to success, as the masterful Fifth Quartet became their calling card and they gave the first Vienna performance on 18 February 1936. The New Hungarians also persuaded the ISCM to accept the Bartók work for the 1936 festival in Barcelona, a further stepping stone in their international career.”
The reverse side of the jacket carries extensive and insightful liner notes by Paul Hamburger, provided in Spanish only. The striking cover design is uncredited, though the photo of a bust of Beethoven was taken by Derek Allen for the Royal Philharmonic Society of London.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD. There is light edgewear and discoloration, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, owners' markings, bends, or other defects, and the whole remains solid, bright, and attractive – overall, a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is VERY GOOD. Though there is light surface noise throughout, in general the playback remains excellent. However, those wanting a flawless or near-MINT copy are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as a very good collector's copy.