Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shostakovich by the Stuyvesant String Quartet

The Stuyvesant String Quartet as pictured for their recording of the Shostakovich Quartet, Op. 49
This is the second of two posts dealing with the Stuyvesant String Quartet, and presents them in two works by Shostakovich, one of them recorded only a week after the American première of the work by the same artists.  This was the Piano Quintet, Op. 57, which Shostakovich had written the year before, and played the first performance with the Beethoven Quartet in November, 1940.  Here the pianist is Vivian Rivkin, the wife of conductor Dean Dixon:

Shostakovich: Quintet for Piano and Strings, Op. 57
Vivian Rivkin, piano, with the Stuyvesant String Quartet
Recorded May 7 and 8, 1941
Columbia Masterworks set MM-483, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 72.85 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.42 MB)

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Stuyvesant Quartet, founded in 1938 by the Shulman brothers, Sylvan (first violinist) and Alan (cellist), had varying inner voices during its first five or six years of existence.  On the Shostakovich Quintet, these are Harry Glickman (second violin) and Louis Kievman (viola).  For the next recording, made the day before the Petrillo recording ban took effect, these had changed to Maurice Wilk (second violin) and Emanuel Vardi (viola):

Shostakovich: Quartet No. 1, Op. 49
The Stuyvesant String Quartet
Recorded July 30, 1942
Columbia Masterworks set MX-231, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 33.45 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 17.13 MB)

At the time of this recording, Shostakovich had written only one string quartet.  This wasn't the first recording of it, but the previous one, by the York Quartet, was already out of print by the time the Stuyvesant's appeared, having been issued on the fly-by-night Royale label.

Before founding the Stuyvesant Quartet, Sylvan and Alan Shulman played in the Kreiner Quartet, founded in 1935 by the violist, Edward Kriener.  This group, with Josef Gingold as its second violinist, made a handful of recordings, including this first recording of Malipiero's "Rispetti e Strambotti", a work that would later become a specialty of the Stuyvesant String Quartet:

Malipiero: Rispetti e Strambotti (String Quartet No. 1) and
Beryl Rubinstein: Passepied
The Kreiner Quartet
Recorded June 7, July 19 and August 14, 1937
Victor Musical Masterpiece set DM-397, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 63.65 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 38.26 MB)

These uploads complete the "reissue" program I have been working on for the last two or three months; I originally offered these recordings in 2008.


  1. These download are very exciting. This fine quartet has been a bit forgotten.

    Its various members have something in common:

    Both Sylvan and Alan Shulman were members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, as were :
    Josef Gingold, Harry Glickman and Bernard Robbins(violin)
    and the viola players Ralph Hersh, Louis Kievman,Edward Kreiner and Emmanuel Vardi

    Ot these,only Alan Shulman was member of the orhestra for all of its 17 seasons.

    All of the 4 members of the Kreiner Quartet were to join the NBC SO.

  2. Wow, this is blog is beyond awesome. Thanks!

    As for Shostakovich's own 1940 performance, I have mp3s of it and I've just posted them to YouTube - here's the link, if anybody's interested:

  3. Bryan:

    Well, I continue to be thrilled with your uploads of masterful performances. Do you by any chance have William Steinberg's Pittsburgh Sym. recording of Shostakovich's Sym 1 (Command Lp)? I used to think it was the wittiest and warmest one I'd ever heard, and I'd dearly like to experience it again. I am asking you FIRST since your blog offers, IMO, the most technically adept and scrupulous job of any I've investigated. I'm batting a thousand so far, as your uploads of Feuermann (Schelomo) and Dorati (Spirituals), requested by me, have been MAGNIFICENT.

    Yours admiringly,
    Steve - retired recording engineer, SF bay area

  4. Bryan,

    I am Beryl Rubinstein's granddaughter. I have some old records of his and would love to discuss them with you. Please let me know how best to contact you. - Judith Hill-Weld

    1. Judith - sorry to be so tardy replying to this - the best way to contact me is via email. I don't want to entice robots to email me by giving the address outright, but you can construct it easily by noting that the part of my email address preceding the "@" symbol is "bryan52063" and the part following is "". Best wishes, Bryan