BUSCH QUARTET Brahms: String & Piano Quartets (1932-49) - PACM091

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BUSCH QUARTET Brahms: String & Piano Quartets (1932-49) - PACM091

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BRAHMS String Quartets Nos. 1-3

BRAHMS Piano Quartet No. 1

Studio Recordings · 1932-49
Total duration: 2hr 13:36

The Busch Quartet
Rudolf Serkin 

This set contains the following albums:

Pioneering Busch String Quartet brilliant with Brahms

"The Busch Quartet are at the top of their form ... exceedingly good" - The Gramophone

These recordings provide us with a wonderful sweep of time both in terms of chamber music performance in the era of commercial sound recording, and in terms of recording quality. Thanks in part to the efforts of the National Gramophonic Society, by 1932 the major record companies were taking chamber music seriously and the Busch Quartet were among the vanguard of a handful of new, highly professional, technically brilliant groups able to profit from this.

By the time they returned to the Brahms Quartets another revolution was in the air, and we hear clearly the quality leap from the 78rpm disc recordings of the 2nd Quartet to the taped recordings of the 3rd and the Piano Quartet.

All the recordings have benefited enormously from both pitch correction and/or stabilisation and XR remastering in these new transfers.

Andrew Rose

  • BRAHMS String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1
    Recorded 19 & 23 September, 1932
    Issued as HMV DB 1807-10
    Matrix Nos. 2B.3858-65

  • BRAHMS String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2
    Recorded 19 April, 1947
    Issued as Columbia LX.1022-25
    Matrix Nos. CAX.9871-78

  • BRAHMS String Quartet No. 3 in B flat major, Op. 57
    Recorded 17 & 21 May, 1949
    Issued as Columbia LX.1262-5 & LXS.1266
    Matrix Nos. CAX.10511-19

  • BRAHMS Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25
    Recorded 25 & 26 May, 1949
    Issued as Columbia LX.1217-21
    Matrix Nos. CAX.10520-29

    Rudolf Serkin


    Adolf Busch violin
    Gösta Andreasson(1)/Ernest Drucker(2)/Bruno Straumann(3) violin
    Karl Doktor(1)/Hugo Gottesmann(2-4) viola
    Hermann Busch cello

  • Gramophone Historic Review

    Let me say at once : this is a wonderful performance indeed

    It was wise to choose the more immediately attractive of the two string quartets that make up Brahms’ Op. 51 and I earnestly hope that the record-buying public will support this laudable enterprise. The composer never returned to the medium of the string quartet, preferring the piano quartet, which he evidently found more congenial. The first movement, full of energy and drive, is a little too rich in texture in spite of a lovely lusingando second subject : and the second movement is, its dramatic middle section apart, of a very romantic cast. The gem of the quartet is the very original Minuet movement which has a lively scherzo in place of a trio, and this movement contains music of the greatest beauty. The final movement gives the lie to Wolf, who said Brahms could not exult, and nothing in the quartet is lovelier than the sudden ironing out of the syncopations of its chief subject, in the coda, and the presentation of the theme in the simplest possible terms just before a most exciting conclusion is added. The Busch Quartet are at the top of their form in this recording and bring out all the lyrical beauty of the work as well as the brilliance of the livelier movements. The recording is exceedingly good.

    A.R., The Gramophone Review of String Quartet No. 2, November 1947

    Let me say at once : this is a wonderful performance indeed. The four players are not perhaps in their very highest form in the first movement, but that still leaves them well ahead of most other quartets I have heard. Serkin’s opening phrase is not well calculated and he shows elsewhere in the movement some tendency to push on in a rather ruthless way with heaviness of accentuation : but you can scarcely be in doubt that you are in for a big performance. In the Intermezzo all the players have found their form and this odd but magical movement gets a really lovely performance.

    But the heights—and the highest heights— are reached in a magnificent reading of the slow movement. The intensity of feeling in the opening section is a quality characteristic of the Busch players (and notably, of course, of their leader) : equally noteworthy is the playing in the contrasting С major section that follows. Indeed, the performance of this whole movement makes it quite clear that we are listening to artists of the very highest calibre.

    And having arrived at this form they proceed to a performance of Brahms’ wonderful Finale, which is by turns scintillating and wonderfully alluring. How well, for one thing, those changes of time and rhythm are judged. Thé balance of the instruments in the recording is excellent throughout, the ensemble is impeccable, while the quality of recorded sound is very good (though, like the. playing, it seemed to me to improve from good to excellent as it went along). This is a magnificent set of records.

    T.H., The Gramophone  Review of Piano Quartet No. 1, September 1949