The Budapests: one of the greatest 20th century quartets
Good "mid-fifties" sound quality from two 1940 recordings!
Initially I was somewhat put off by the sound quality, which seemed a little poor for a major quartet of this era, but thanks to some brand new restoration software i've recently been testing, this was largely overcome and I began to feel we had something worthwhile and nearly ready for release.
With this in mind, I was delighted to receive a transfer from Dr. John Duffy, intended initially for our Pristine Exclusives catalogue, of both the Ravel and Debussy quartets, from which I was able to use the Debussy to compliment my own Ravel transfer. Dr. Duffy, too, had worked from an LP source, this time a US Columbia issue, and had dated its release to 1950. Given the quality both he and I had achieved (I was able to squeeze a little more top end out of the Debussy with some nifty XR remastering) I was content that these were pretty good recordings for a 1950 release date.
I was therefore utterly astonished when I came across the Budapest Quartet discography at Youngrok Lee's superb music pages (which contain some of the best-researched discographies to be found online) and discovered that both of these recordings were made way back in New York in 1940! The frequency response and low noise levels gave no indication whatsoever of this vintage, and as a result I now up my technical quality rating for this release from good to amazing!
The vintage - predating any claims for full-frequency response recordings by several years - does explain one or two rougher edges at times, but overall any lover both of this music and this quartet are in for a real treat with this splendid issue.
DEBUSSY String Quintet in G minor (1893)
RAVEL Recorded 8th September 1940, Liederkranz Hall, New York
Issued as Columbia 78s M-425
Transfer and restoration by Andrew Rose
DEBUSSY Recorded 10th-12th December 1940, Liederkranz Hall, New York
Issued as Columbia 78s Columbia M 467 / LOX 545~48(England)
Transfer and restoration from Dr. John Duffy
Further restoration and XR remastering by Andrew Rose, April-May 2009
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Josef Roismann
Total duration: 54:11
The Budapest Quartet:
Josef Roismann, violin
Alexander Schneider, violin
Boris Kroyt, viola
Mischa Schneider, cello