The Pascals play Haydn in post-war Paris
XR-remastered for finest sound quality
These recordings were amongst a set selected from the extensive collection of Brussels-based collector Jean-François Lambert as excellent examples of neglected European recordings of the early LP era which will appear in the coming weeks and months at Pristine. It's hard to conceive of a more delightful way to begin the series than with the Pascal Quartet's sublime readings of these two Haydn favourites.
The appearance of one of these two quartets, the D minor, Op. 76, No. 2, on a set of HMV 78s issued in 1949, gave the first clue as to the recording date of that particular recording, and further digging revealed it to have been taped in Paris in November 1948. The second quartet here, the 'Joke' Quartet, is much more elusive, and I've struggled to find mention of it beyond the MMS disc from which these transfers were drawn.
Yet I strongly suspect that it was drawn from the same recording sessions, as there is a continuity not only of both sound quality and acoustic, but also of occasional distant traffic rumble (formerly buried in the grooves) which is evident in both recordings.
Whether or not this is the case (and the second recording was most certainly made either at the end of the 1940s or start of the 1950s) it seems we have no right to expect the kind of sound quality revealed by the XR remastering of this disc, which is nothing short of superb throughout, and conveys perfectly the finest nuances in these literally delightful performances. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the 1952 issue of The Record Guide commented sniffily about those HMV 78s: "although it is well played, the string tone is very unpleasant. The issue is said to have been dubbed from a tape recording."
Well take a listen to our sample here, in which Ambient Stereo processing brings out the fine acoustic captured in this recording, and try to remind yourself at regular intervals that it's was made 61 years ago, and not in the 21st century...
HAYDN String Quartet in F minor, Op. 76, No.2, Hob.III:76, "Fifths"
HAYDN String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 33, No.2, Hob.III:38, "Joke"
Recorded in Paris, November & 21 December 1948.
Note that some distant traffic noise is faintly audible at times on this recording.
Transferred from Musical Masterpiece Society 10" LP, MMS-47
Source material from the collection of Jean-François Lambert
Transfer and XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, March 2009
Total duration: 33:29
Jacques Dumont, violin
Maurice Crut, violin
Léon Pascal, viola
Robert Salles, cello