Brahms' First String Quintet
The Budapest Quartet's 1937 classic, remastered for finest sound quality
Brahms' first String Quintet, written in 1882, shows the composer in his mature period finally feeling comfortable in tackling a genre he had previously avoided, confident that he need not feel daunted by the perfection of Mozart's great quintets. Somewhat inexplicably this particular work, which is a personal favourite of mine, has proved to be one of the composer's least popular chamber works.
Brahms himself would also be surprised to find this - at the time it was one of his own personal favourites, telling his publisher, Simrock, "You have never before had such a beautiful work from me", and writing to Clara Schumann he stated it to be "one of my finest works".
The Budapest Quartet, augmented by violist Hans Mahlke, had previously recorded the Second Quintet (PACM041) in Berlin. For this recording, made five years later, they had the talents of Alfred Hobday and the HMV engineers at Abbey Road studios to assist them. This later recording sounds closer and more up-front than the earlier one, recorded in the Beethovensaal, and it will be a matter of personal preference as to which better suits your tastes. There is certainly more detail to be heard in this recording, but perhaps at times at the expense of a more well-rounded overall texture.
BRAHMS String Quintet No. 1 in F, Op. 88
Recorded on 8th February, 1937, Abbey Road, London
Issued as HMV DB.3143-5
Matrix Numbers: 2EA.4803-8, takes: all 1st except side 3, take 2.
Total Duration: 24:59
The Budapest Quartet:
Josef Roismann, violin
Alexander Schneider, violin
Boris Kroyt, viola
Mischa Schneider, cello
Alfred Hobday, viola