Monday, 23 April 2012

Never believe what it says on the label....

Well this recording is indeed incomplete as well as mis-titled so proved a bit of a challenge all round - I have cleaned the sound up but the acetates are a bit worn and I did not want be too intrusive. I have left the sides just as they are so be warned the music suddenly stops and starts in places. In all 24 minutes were recorded so the performance is missing something over 6 minutes.

Schubert:  String Quartet No.8, D. 112

New Italian String Quartet

Four sides on two acetate discs
Originally recorded at the Freemason's Hall, Edinburgh
Wednesday, 29th August 1951
Score from IMSLP

1 Flac file HERE at Mediafire. [about 68Mb].

I have reversed out picture of the disc's centre as the yellow crayon is a bit indistinct but what it states is 'Quartet in F  K.590 1st mov. New Italian 4/3/52.'

Now if you want to know this very, very long winded process of identification then by all means read on!

Having listened to this it certainly was not the Mozart or Beethoven as advertised on the BBC Third Programme for 11pm on Monday 4th of March 1952. I do not know what caused the error, wither it was a last minute change to the programme, someone making the wrong announcement (unlikely) or the anonymous person who made these discs getting it wrong - clearly whoever recorded it was  blissfully unaware of the mistake for the paper sleeves also have the Mozart K.590 written on them.

Anyway thanks to CharmNick for instantly spotting the composition, I can only admit to knowing the 'tune' and probably would have worked it out in the end, but deferred to The Chamber Music expert! [My wife tells me I'm an oily so and so]

On board SS Liberté (French Line), 1951

I only hoped this was actually the Italian Quartet playing as another oddity about this recording is that the schedule calls the players 'The New Italian Quartet,' they had however changed their name to just plain Italian Quartet or indeed Quartetto Italiano by 1952. Also 11pm on Monday night is an odd time to have a live audience so I suspect the recording must have been made earlier, but when or indeed where. The records came from Edinburgh and they came with a batch of other transcriptions of various Edinburgh Festival items from the 1950s so I suspect that they may also be transcriptions from a performance first broadcast from the Edinburgh Festival of 1951 and so thanks to Google News I pin-pointed the answer to this seeming conundrum. The following  extract is by Harold Thomson, music critic of the The Glasgow Herald, published on the 30th August 1951 reviewing the performance of the morning of the Wednesday 29th.

'New Italian Quartet Delights: Some of the finest playing of the Edinburgh Festival has bean heard from the New Italian Quartet, who gave the second of their two morning concerts in the Freemasons' Hall yesterday. Well matched in tone and temperament, they have maintained a consistently high standard in works of widely differing character, and in particular their soft playing will long be remembered by those who heard it. Their second programme began with Mozart's Adagio and Fugue in C minor K 546. …Schubert early Quartet In B flat Opus 168 (" done in 4½ hours." according to the composer), was rather sentimentally treated to begin with, but the menuetto and finale had rhythmic grip as well as delicacy in the quieter passages.' The last item in the concert was Schumann's Quartet in  F major.

I don't have a copy of the recording issued in April 1954 on Decca LXT 2855 but it would be interesting to see how their commercial performance compares.

1 comment:

  1. Great detective work, Jols! Maybe the line from Edinburgh to London went down in 1952, so the BBC broadcast your older recording instead. Interesting that Thomson called this lovely performance of the Schubert 'sentimental' and implied that was a bad thing - and that 'grip' was a good thing. Thanks so much for this interesting document, Nick