Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bloch by the Stuyvesant String Quartet

Ernest Bloch in Switzerland, 1916
This evening I present the first of two posts devoted to the Stuyvesant String Quartet, founded in 1938 by the Shulman brothers, violinist Sylvan (1912-1985) and cellist Alan (1915-2002).  This ensemble became renowned for its recordings of 20th-century quartets, including a number of recording premières.  Among these was their debut recording in the quartet repertoire, the First String Quartet of Ernest Bloch (pictured above in the year in which he wrote it):

Bloch: Quartet No. 1 in B minor (1916)
The Stuyvesant String Quartet (Shulman-Smirnoff-Kievman-Shulman)
Recorded October 10, 1939
English Columbia LX 8511 through 8516, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 113.75 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 51.12 MB)

October 10, 1939, would appear to have been a busy day for the Stuyvesant Quartet, for if one believes the data in a Pearl CD issue of Elisabeth Schumann's Bach recordings (which includes the Mass in B minor conducted by Albert Coates), the same players were in the Victor studios on the same date, assisting in accompanying Mme. Schumann in the "Wedding" Cantata, BWV 202, along with harpsichordist Yella Pessl, oboist Mitch Miller and bassist Philip Sklar.

The Stuyvesant String Quartet's inner parts changed hands several times through its first few years of existence.  The Quartet became inactive for a few years during the Second World War, then were reconstituted in 1945 with second violinist Bernard Robbins and violist Ralph Hersh.  This was the lineup for the remainder of the Quartet's career (until 1954).  In 1947 the Stuyvesant Quartet returned to the recording studio, making three sets for New York-based International Records (reissued as LPs by the Concert Hall Society), among which was a further Bloch recording:

Bloch: Quartet No. 2 (1945)
The Stuyvesant String Quartet (Shulman-Robbins-Hersh-Shulman)
Recorded in November, 1947
Concert Hall Society CHC-20, one 12-inch red vinyl LP record
Link (FLAC files, 77.7 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 40 MB)

This wasn't the first recording of the new Bloch quartet; that had been done five months earlier for English Decca by the Griller Quartet.

I originally offered the Bloch First Quartet in 2008, but the Second Quartet appears here for the first time in my transfer.

Anyone interested in the Stuyvesant String Quartet should look into a fine CD reissue by Parnassus Records, featuring quartets by Hindemith, Villa-Lobos and Quincy Porter, and produced by Jay Shulman, Alan's son.  When last I checked, it was still being carried by Berkshire Record Outlet (at a very reasonable $5.99).


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  3. Wonderful to find these here. Many thanks, Bryan.

  4. I have been looking for recordings of the Stuyvesant string quartet for several years. Thank you so much for providing such information, and for sharing these wonderful recordings on you tube! Best regards.