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Virtuoso String Quartet

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The Virtuoso String Quartet was formed by the Gramophone Company expressly for making records. They were the first to commit Cesar Franck’s String Quartet to disc, in a very late acoustic, made over the first few months of 1925. Their other acoustic recordings include Beethoven’s Quartet No.8; Frank Bridge’s Three Idylls; and Tchaikovsky’s 1st Quartet. They continued recording through to the early electrical period, recording more Beethoven quartets, and the Debussy quartet, as well as a number of shorter pieces. Their first violinist, Marjorie Hayward, had a substantial recording career of her own

Franck – String Quartet in D major
I. Poco Lento - Allegro - Poco Lento - Allegro
- Poco Lento (4 sides)
II. Scherzo - Vivace (2 sides)
III. Larghetto (3 sides)
IV. Finale: Allegro molto - Presto (3 sides)
Virtuoso String Quartet:
Marjorie Hayward, violin
Edwin Virgo, violin
Raymond Jeremy, viola
Cedric Sharpe, cello

Available to download from Historic Recordings

His Master’s Voice D 1006-11
Matrices Cc 5588-IV, 5589-II, 5595-II, 5596-IV, 5597-IV, 5622-II, 5623-I, 5624-II, 5625-I, 5892-IV, 5893-II, 5894-II (08203/08214)
Recorded 18th March 1925 (sides 1, 4, 5, 11, 12), 14th January 1925 (side 2), 15th January 1925 (side 3), 19th January 1925 (sides 6, 7, 8, 9), 20th April 1925 (side 10)

As noted above, the Virtuoso String Quartet was formed by the Gramophone Company expressly for making records. They were the first to commit Cesar Franck’s String Quartet to disc, in a very late acoustic, made over the first few months of 1925. Their other acoustic recordings include Beethoven’s Quartet No.8; Frank Bridge’s Three Idylls; and Tchaikovsky’s 1st Quartet. They continued recording through to the early electrical period, recording more Beethoven quartets, and the Debussy quartet, as well as a number of shorter pieces.

This work divides opinions, as these two excerpts quoted in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Guide to Chamber Music make clear:

“There is no reason why a string quartet should not, by means of double stops, produce a passage that effectively imitates an octet. But there is no excuse for making a string quartet play for pages together in such masses of double stops that there is no more evidence of four individual players than in a piano four-hand duet. It is no defence that such writing (as in Grieg's G minor quartet) is 'effective'; to prolong it is to do a ridiculously easy thing at the expense of all higher possibilities. César Franck's string quartet is in this way a disappointment to every one who can appreciate the essential, if sometimes harmlessly orchestral, quintuplicity of his great piano quintet. The string quartet is full of excellent organ music, and it imitates the organ very skillfully. But, except for the scherzo, which is fully of anybody's brilliance, there is strangely little evidence that it is a quartet at all.”

Donald F. Tovey

“If for nothing else, I should hold the gramophone justified by making us free of César Franck's sonata and quartet and sublime quintet. He, perhaps, more than any other composer, requires the right mood for his music, and how seldom shall we find it in a concert hall! I do not care to hear that quartet in a crowd, but in my own room with my own books and pictures round me, I am beside him in his organ loft, and I have heard the 'seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.' Surely, if ever the Holy Angels walked beside a human being, they walked beside César Franck up there in the organ loft of Ste. Clotilde. Like Blake, he never lost his childish vision; and of all sublunary delights I know of few that can compare with reading to oneself the Songs of Innocence late on a winter night, and then playing to oneself the quartet. That, indeed, is to hold eternity in an hour. I am not forgetting Palestrina when I lament that the age of faith never really expressed itself in music.”

Compton Mackenzie

Debussy - String Quartet in G minor Op.10
I. Animé et très décidé (2 sides)
II. Assez vif et bien rythmé (1 side)
III. Andantino doucement expressif (2 sides)
IV. Très modéré (2 sides)
Mendelssohn - String Quartet in E flat major Op.44 No.3
II. Scherzo: Assai leggiero vivace

Virtuoso String Quartet:
Marjorie Hayward,
violin
Edwin Virgo, violin
Raymond Jeremy, viola
Cedric Sharpe, cello

Mediafire link for Debussy - String Quartet - Virtuoso Quartet

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

His Master's Voice D 1058-1061
Matrices Cc 6690-II, 6691-V, 6692-VII, 6711-IIII, 6712-IIII, 6713-II, 6891-IV, 7021-I (single side numbers 08218/9, 08220/5)
Recorded 14th September 1925 (side 1), 18th September (side 4, 6) 4th December 1925 (side 2, 3, 5, 7), 21st October 1925 (Mendelssohn)

Beethoven - String Quartet No.12 in E flat major Op.127

    I. Maestoso - Allegro (2 sides)
    II. Adagio ma non troppo - Andante con moto - Adagio molto espressivo  (3 sides)
    III. Scherzando, vivace (2 sides)
    IV. Finale (2 sides)

Dittersdorf - Minuet from Quartet in E flat major

Virtuoso String Quartet:
Marjorie Hayward,
violin
Edwin Virgo, violin
Raymond Jeremy, viola
Cedric Sharpe, cello

Mediafire link for Beethoven - String Quartet Op.127 - Virtuoso Quartet

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

His Master's Voice Album Series No.35, D1183-7
Matrices Cc 7022-V, 7023-VI, 7059-II, 7060-II, 7503-I, 7506-II, 7507-III, 7552-I, 7553-II, 8517-I (single side numbers 08293, 08294, 08260, 08268, 08298, 08256, 08261, 08269, 08257, 08272)
Recorded 12th October 1926 (sides 1, 2), 26th October 1925 (sides 3, 4 at 79rpm), 14th December 1925 (sides 5, 6, 7), 17th December 1925 (sides 8, 9), 6th September 1926 (side 10), Hayes

Mozart - Violin Sonata in B flat major K.378

    I. Allegro (2 sides)
    II. Andante sostenuto e cantabile (1 side)
    III. Allegro (Rondo) (1 side)

Marjorie Hayward, violin
Una Bourne, piano

Mediafire link for Mozart - Violin Sonata in B flat K378 - Hayward and Bourne

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

His Master's Voice C 1247-8
Matrices Cc 7233-I, 7234-IV, 7492-II, 7493-III (single side numbers 08234/7)
Recorded 11th November 1925 (sides 1 and 2), 10th December 1925 (sides 3 and 4), Hayes

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