Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bruckner: String Quintet (Prisca Quartet)

Anton Bruckner
I'm afraid I'm a little late to the party, but last week (Sept. 4) saw the 188th anniversary of the birth of Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), and I guess it's better late than never.  So in his honor, I present the première recording of his finest chamber work, the String Quintet in F, which falls chronologically between the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.  This features the Cologne-based Prisca Quartet, named after its leader, Walter Schulze-Prisca - whose name originally appears to have been simply Walter Schulze, but he took his wife's last name, Prisca, when he married her!  The playing sounds quite old-fashioned even by the standards of its time, and it may well be the slowest version of the Quintet on record.  (If the Scherzo weren't cut, it would be easier to make a comparison.)  Hans Roelofs, in his excellent Bruckner discography devoted to the composer's non-symphonic music, considers this recording to be of documentary interest only.  But this could be the closest we can come to hearing Bruckner's music as Bruckner himself would have heard it, and it's worth noting that Schulze-Prisca was born the same year, 1879, as this Quintet was written.  Judge for yourself:

Bruckner: String Quintet in F Major (1879) and
Haydn: Serenade (from Quartet in F, Op. 3, No. 5)
Prisca Quartet with Siegfried Meincke, viola
Recorded December 29-30, 1937
Decca-Polydor X 220 through X 225, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 135.05 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 54.9 MB)

During the 1930s, the Prisca Quartet recorded several sets for Deutsche Grammophon-Polydor.  Besides this Bruckner quintet, there were three Mozart quartets (one of which is available from Pristine Audio), and quartets by Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert and Verdi.  Oddly, all but the Haydn and Bruckner were released on ten-inch discs!

1 comment:

  1. A gem, musically and historically. And excellent sound quality, even on Youtube (where I listened). Thanks - and blog is excellent too.