Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nielsen: Quartet No. 3 (Erling Bloch Quartet)

Erling Bloch Quartet
Carl Nielsen wrote four string quartets, the last one dating from 1906.  This means that all of them are relatively early works, for he lived another twenty-five years.  It has been regretted by many (including the composer's daughter, who is said to have encouraged him, to no avail) that he made no contributions to the genre in his musical maturity, especially as Nielsen was a violinist himself and might be expected to have a special understanding of writing for stringed instruments.  But he wasn't interested, and on the basis of the direction his music took in the last fifteen years, I can understand why: his later works glory in contrasts between instruments, and the homogeneous sound of the string quartet wouldn't offer much scope for that kind of writing.  Be that as it may, there is much to enjoy in the Nielsen quartets, and the present one is, for me, the best of them:

Nielsen: Quartet No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 14
The Erling Bloch String Quartet
Recorded September 22-23, 1946
HMV DB 20100 through DB 20103, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 83.07 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 48.10 MB)

The distinguished Danish violinist Erling Bloch (1904-1992) founded the quartet bearing his name in 1933; its other members were Lavard Friisholm, second violin (who later directed the Copenhagen Collegium Musicum, whose recording of Bentzon's Chamber Concerto I uploaded recently), Hans Kassow, viola, and Torben Svendsen, cello.  With Svendsen, Bloch later founded the Danish Quartet, an ensemble consisting of flute (played by Gilbert Jespersen, the dedicatee of Nielsen's Flute Concerto), violin, cello and piano.


  1. Infected with Trojan.Win32.AntiFW.b

    1. Do you have any more Nielsen on 78, particularly orchestral, chamber
      or piano, that you could post? The 'Historic Nielsen' on Danacord all
      too frequently favours LP over 78's Their idea of historical is not what
      it should be IMHO.

      Mike in Plovdiv

  2. Hi Mike, all I have is more chamber - the Wind Quintet (DB5200/3), Serenata in Vano (DB5204), and both violin sonatas (Telmanyi, DB2734/6; Bloch, DB5218/9). Any interest?

    1. Bryan, Yes,please! the Violin Sonata #2! I have the other items in the
      Danacord set [which uses a late LP rec by Telmányi for VS2]. In my
      active daze the quintet was my first captivating acquaintance with
      Nielsen, followed not long after by the serenata. Never had either VS
      on shellack. Now everything is CD, or downloads from generous
      collectors such as yourself!

      m in p

    2. Mike, out of curiosity, how are the Danacord CD transfers? I have a 3-LP set on Danacord of historical Nielsen chamber recordings, issued in 1984, and the transfers are awful - made me seek out the Nielsen 78s I now have in the belief I could do better ones! Will put the V.S.2 on my "to do" list...

    3. Bryan, I find the CD transfers good; I don't thinque the CD's are
      the same transfer as th LP's. CD's are by Andrew Walter & Paul Bailey at Abbey Rd, Claus Byrith in Aarhus, and Krister Olsson in
      Malmö. Don't have the facilities or the knohow, else I'd send you
      an upload for comparison....

      m in p

  3. Thanks Bryan

    I have this set somewere but somehow never got round to playing it! Downloading and listenting to yours saves me searching for it.


  4. thanks for this string quartet and the violin sonata. and all your value adding by way of helpful commentary. regards, alfred venison.