The Quartetto Italiano (English: Italian Quartet) was a string quartet founded in Reggio Emilia in 1945. They made their debut in 1945 in Carpi when all four players were still in their early 20's. They were originally named Nuovo Quartetto Italiano before dropping the "Nuovo" tag in 1951. They are particularly noted for their recording of the complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets, made between 1967 and 1975. The quartet disbanded in 1980.
Borciani, Pegreffi and Rossi met in 1940 at the Concorso Nazionale in La Spezia. In summer 1942 they met again at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where the cellist Arturo Bonucci (Sr.) (head of the chamber class, husband of Pina Carmirelli) put them together with the viola player Lionello Forzanti for the study session. They worked together on the Debussy quartet and performed it in September 1942.
In August 1945 the group began to study together again at the Borciani house in Reggio Emilia. Their debut followed on 12 November 1945 at the Sala dei Mori in Carpi, as the Nuovo Quartetto Italiano, in the inaugural concert of the Società degli Amici della Musica. By the end of the year they had also performed in Reggio Emilia and in Milan. In March 1946 they were winners at the Concorso of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and also in the Concorso of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana. A performance for the Milan Quartet Society followed, and the first foreign engagement was at the Zürich Tonhalle.
In February 1947 Piero Farulli replaced Forzanti at the viola desk, and the first performance in the new (and permanent) company was in Mantua. Debuts followed that year in Austria, England, at the Venice International Festival, and at the Engadin Konzertwochen (where their collaboration with clarinettist Antoine de Bavier in the Mozart Quintet K.581 occurred - recorded also for Decca label). They also gave the world premiere of the Villa-Lobos Quartet No.9 at the Accademia Filarmonica Romana.
Appearances in Italy, England, Scotland, Spain and France followed in 1948, totalling 63 concerts, and the group began recording for Decca Records. Concerts rose to over 100 in 1949, with visits to Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. At Stockholm Royal Academy they gave a series of lecture-recitals with Gerda Busoni, widow of Ferruccio Busoni. Another century of concerts was given in 1950.
In 1951 (having dropped the word “Nuovo” (i.e., new) from their name) the Quartet performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Salzburg Festival. It was at Salzburg that they had a long and very influential interview with Wilhelm Furtwängler, who urged them to work towards a much greater freedom of expression which would access for them the world of Grand Romanticism. This was much later acknowledged as a critical turning-point for the group.
BEETHOVEN String Quartet No.6 in B flat Op.18, No.6
BEETHOVEN String Quartet No.7 in F Op.59, No.1
Recorded July 1952, Santa Cecilia, Rome
HADYN String Quartet in G major, Op. 77, No. 1, Hob III:81
MOZART String Quartet No. 2 in D major, K155 (K134a)
HADYN String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 64, No. 6, Hob III:64)
Recorded 1952 & 1948
Total duration: 50:55