Monday, November 21, 2011

The Flonzaley Quartet and After

The Flonzaley Quartet
Today I present the legendary Flonzaley Quartet in the only complete 20th century quartet they recorded, the Dohnányi Op. 15.  This is one of their rarer recordings; in fact, I am unaware of any LP or CD transfer of this set, though most of the Flonzaleys' other early electrical sets were covered by Biddulph in a pair of double-CD packages during the 1990s.  Well, here it is, in a transfer I originally offered in 2008:

Dohnányi: Quartet No. 2 in D-Flat, Op. 15
The Flonzaley Quartet
Recorded October 20 and 21, 1927
HMV DB 1135 through 1137, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 69.3 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 26.74 MB)

The Flonzaley Quartet disbanded in 1929, but its members (which by this time were Adolfo Betti and Alfred Pochon, violins; Nicholas Moldavan, viola; and Iwan d'Archambeau, cello) continued to work in other quartets.  One of these was the Stradivarius String Quartet, in which Pochon and d'Archambeau were joined by Wolfe Wolfinsohn, first violin, and Marcel Dick, viola.  In 1937 the group made a handful of recordings for Columbia, of which perhaps the most important is this Mendelssohn quartet (again, originally offered in 2008):

Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 3 in D, Op. 44, No. 1
The Stradivarius String Quartet
Recorded January 27, February 4, April 19 and 22, 1937
Columbia Masterworks Set 304, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 59.77 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 24.47 MB)

Violist Moldavan went on to become a founding member (along with violinists William Kroll and Nicolai Berezowsky and cellist Jack Gottlieb) of the Coolidge Quartet, a very interesting group: named after that patron saint of 20th century chamber music, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (whose own String Quartet in E minor the group recorded); they started a project to record the complete Beethoven quartets, but abandoned it after No. 8 when the war and the Petrillo recording ban of 1942-44 intervened.  They also recorded quite a few American works, including quartets by Griffes, Loeffler, Mason, and by their own second violinist Berezowsky, as well as Roy Harris' piano quintet (with the composer's wife, Johana, at the piano).  Their first recording was of this Hindemith quartet (also a 2008 transfer):

Hindemith: Quartet No. 3, Op. 22
The Coolidge Quartet
Recorded May 20, 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-524, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 48.93 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 25.77 MB)

Finally, for anyone interested, I have put up three videos on YouTube with my own harpsichord- and piano-playing; here are the links:

Maple Leaf Rag
Hovhaness: Dark River and Distant Bell
"Linus and Ludwig"


  1. I absolutely loved "Linus and Ludwig"!

  2. Many thanks for your wonderful offerings of chamber music, which I have downloaded avidly. As a point of information, the Flonzaley Dohnanyi is also available from Pristine Classical in an excellent transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn. See There is added value in the Pristine issue in the form of the delightful Pochon transcriptions of spirituals and folksongs. This small detail in no way detracts from my gratitude to you, of course.

  3. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!! Thank you so much for these unbelievable treasures.

  4. The Stradivarius String Quartet is fabulous. They do justice to the Flonzaley heritage. The Mendelssohn is far beyond reproach. Pochon really knew how to assemble SQs. Thanks very much.