Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mozart by the Pro Arte Quartet

Here is one of three Mozart string quintets recorded by the original members of the Pro Arte Quartet, an ensemble which is still with us today (and poised to celebrate its centennial in 2012).  From 1921 to 1939 its members were Alphonse Onnou and Laurent Halleux, violins; Germain Prevost, viola; and Robert Maas, cello.  All but Maas were founding members of the ensemble, which was formed in Belgium in 1912.  The Pro Arte Quartet began recording for HMV in 1931, commencing with their famous Haydn series which ultimately ran to 29 string quartets, most of them in their first recordings.  Their recorded output during the 1930s was vast, some 280 issued 78-rpm sides, and included collaborations with pianists Artur Rubinstein, Alfredo Casella, and, most famously, Artur Schnabel.

As I mentioned above, they recorded three Mozart string quintets with British-born violist Alfred Hobday (1870-1942).  Hobday got around; he's featured as second violist in innumerable quintet and sextet recordings of the period, not just with the Pro Arte but also with the Budapest Quartet, and he was in the very first recording of a Mozart quintet, that of K. 516 in G minor with the London String Quartet in 1917, which has been transferred by Jolyon -see here.  My transfer is of the Quintet in D, K. 593:

Mozart: String Quintet No. 5 in D, K. 593
Pro Arte Quartet with Alfred Hobday, second viola
Recorded November 18, 1936
Victor Musical Masterpiece set DM-350, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 56.68 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 24.47 MB)

Alfred Hobday's wife was the pianist Ethel Hobday, née Sharpe (1872-1947).  Her recording, with the London String Quartet, of Schumann's Piano Quintet for Vocalion was the one which converted Compton Mackenzie, who founded Gramophone Magazine in 1923, into a gramophile.  Alas, I don't have that (though Jolyon does - see the link above), but I do have her recording of Elgar's Piano Quintet, made for the National Gramophonic Society in 1925.  Elgar himself had been approached to play the piano part in this recording, but he declined, recommending Mrs. Hobday instead.  I have re-uploaded this recording, which I originally transferred early in 2008:

Elgar: Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84
Ethel Hobday, piano, with the Spencer Dyke String Quartet
Recorded December, 1925 by Vocalion
National Gramophonic Society NN through RR, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 96.56 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 36.97 MB)


  1. very nice - I look forward to hearing all this.

    the pro arte's mozart was included in the Andante album of ProArte reissues a few years back, but it will be fun to compare the transfers.

    the Elgar will be a first for me, however


  2. Hi Squirrel - I have that Andante set too, but it only has one of the Mozart quintets, the K.515 in C. Unless there's another Andante set I don't know about, I don't think this K.593 has ever made it to CD.

  3. Thanks Bryan - always something of great interest here.

  4. Bryan,
    Thanks for setting me straight -- I thought this WAS the C! I must read more carefully.

    Bra-vo, chap!

  5. Hope you don't mind - but I had to share your link to the superb transfer of Pro Arte Quartet on Many thanks for another excellent share.

  6. S. West - No, I don't mind at all; in fact, thanks for the link.

  7. Thank you for this!! I remember listening to this LP from a university collection. Brings back great memories.

  8. Could you please re-upload "Mozart: String Quintet No. 5 in D, K. 593" in flac - unfortunately the link has "died" by now :(
    Thank you so much in advance!

  9. Would appreciate the link.