78rpm Community, I have a discography of the Virtuoso String Quartet slated to appear. In tandem with this, I present their most ambitious recording, the first ever made of Franck's wonderful String Quartet. This is already available at CHARM, as I have said before, but interest was expressed in my transfer, and there's one thing you will get from my download that CHARM doesn't have - the original liner notes! These contain a reasonably good analysis of the piece, written by someone whose initials were "P.M.S.L.", and they also contain, at the end, a pat on the back for HMV's recording department - something Victor often did in their early liner notes, but it's surprising to see this from their staid English counterpart. This was, in fact, one of HMV's last acoustical recordings, made over five sessions in 1925 just before they signed on to use Western Electric's system of electrical recording in May, and it remained in their catalogue longer than most of their acoustically recorded sets - until 1934, when it was replaced by the Quatour Pro Arte's version of the same work:
Franck: String Quartet in D Major
The Virtuoso String Quartet (Hayward-Virgo-Jeremy-Sharpe)
Recorded January 14 to April 20, 1925
HMV D 1006 through D 1011, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 149.02 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 74.09 MB)
This is, for me, as fine a recording of the Franck quartet as any since, although it must be admitted that there aren't that many to choose from, at least from the pre-digital era. Indeed, during the 1970s, the work was completely absent from the Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog! I remember how eagerly I snapped up the Fitzwilliam Quartet's L'Oiseau Lyre recording (their first project after their famed Shostakovich cycle) when it was released in the USA in 1980, for it gave me a chance to finally hear the piece.