Excellent Mozart and Haydn from one of the great quartets
Quartetto Italiano's sound superbly enhanced in these new 32-bit XR transfers
FLAC Downloads include PDF scores of all three works
Contemporary review of Haydn Quartet Op 64 No 4
"I played this set immediately after the Schubert (reviewed elsewhere) and, putting them side by side, one cannot help reflecting, what an astonishing expansion took place in music in so short a time: an enormous expansion of range of mood—and of sheer size (Schubert's 10 sides to Haydn's 4). But im-mediately comes a second thought. Expansion, yes: Progress, no. This Haydn is perfection of its kind. String quartet lovers are in luck this month for here is another more than ordinarily good performance. It is lovely Haydn playing, above all in the last two movements, and throughout it has moment after moment when the charm of style cannot fail to enchant.
There is just one phrase which I think over-steps the bounds of ciassical style—if you have a score you can find it in the slow movement, just before the minor section and again just before the end. (Bars with a sf.) But this is nothing to set against such excellent interpretation.
As to balance and recording, also good, though I do not find the cello line entirely satisfactory. I am not sure if the player has perhaps a rather tubby tone or whether the recorders might have given us a little more of him—possibly both. At any rate, in the middle, minor, section of the slow movement I needed my score to know that there is a bass line of B flats for the first few bars: and elsewhere I found his line not consistently telling.
Yet this is a very good set of records and another work which you should at least hear and judge for yourself."
T. H., The Gramophone, December 1949
Notes on the recordings:
The recordings presented here span the end of the 78rpm era and the start of the LP era - the 1952 recordings were given standard 78rpm matrix numbers (IAR551-2 and IAR563-68) though is it uncertain whether they were ever issued on 78s, and would have been recorded onto tape.
The earlier recording, 1948's Haydn E flat Quartet, most certainly was issued on 78s (AK2159-60) and must have been among Decca's last recordings made direct to disc - this was clearly apparent when restoring the recording from their own LP transfer, in this case a mint ten-inch 33rpm German pressing, where remnants of surface noise and swish clearly indicated original 78rpm rotation.
Also appreciable is the decrease in general surface noise with the advent of tape, coupled with increased general recording fidelity between 1948 and 1952. That said, each of these recordings has benefited greatly from 32-bit XR remastering, in which I've been able to bring out a great deal of clarity and fine detail, whilst retaining an open, organic sound.
I was also able to enhance the originally rather dry sound of the Santa Cecilia recordings, using precisely mapped acoustic models of the hall in which the recordings were made, to "place the listener" in the centre of the seventh row of the auditorium - thus allowing the sound of the hall itself to round out the tone of the quartet in a pleasing and entirely authentic manner.
CD covers to print:
CD-writing cuesheet (save as .cue):
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