Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Copland by the Dorian String Quartet

Aaron Copland wrote precious little chamber music, but what he did write is of high quality, and this extends back to works he wrote as a young man in the 1920s. For string quartet there are only three extant pieces, all dating from the 20s, a Movement written while he was studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris (between 1921 and 1924), which was shelved and forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 1980s, a Rondino from the same period, and a Lento molto from 1928. The latter two pieces (in reverse order) form a satisfying slow-fast grouping, and Copland decided to publish them that way. This is the pair's first recording:

Copland: Two Pieces for String Quartet (1923-28)
Dorian String Quartet
Recorded February 8, 1940
Columbia 70092-D, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 19.69 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 13.63 MB)

I can't find out much about the Dorian String Quartet, other than that they seem to have been active between about 1939 and 1942, and their membership consisted of Alexander Cores and Harry Friedman, violins; David Mankovitz, viola, and a very young Bernard Greenhouse, who went on to later fame with the Beaux Arts Trio, as cellist. They made only a handful of recordings: the Piston String Quartet No. 1 in 1939, and Arthur Foote's Night Piece with flutist John Wummer, made on the same day as the Copland pieces. Cores and Greenhouse went on to make sets of violin and cello literature, respectively, for Columbia's educational series.

I got this Copland record from an eBay seller, and in the same package was John Kirkpatrick's pioneering set of Ives' "Concord" Sonata on five Columbia 78s. It was only after I ordered it that I realized that Buster had given us this same recording as transferred from its LP reissue, which is the preferable way to hear it, because the quality of Columbia's shellac from this time (1948) was simply awful. The "Concord", however, takes nine sides, making a filler necessary, and this - a part of the second movement of Ives' First Piano Sonata, recorded the same day as the larger work - didn't make it onto the LP. So I offer it here, as a sort of appendix to Buster's upload:

Ives: "In the Inn" (from Piano Sonata No. 1)
John Kirkpatrick, piano
Recorded April 9, 1945
Side 10 of Columbia set MM-749, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 14.05 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 10.33 MB)


  1. Hi Bryan - I am most grateful for the Ives and Copland both! And thanks for the plug as well.

  2. I have to add that it's particularly wonderful to have the scans from the Concord 78 set. I searched all over for these before I posted the LP!

  3. Thank you for making this available. With regards Copeland peices for string quartet, aside from the 'Movement', the 'Rondino' and the 'Lento Molto' there is also a transcription of Faure's 9th Prelude for string quartet, which was originally paired with the 'Rondino' as a memorial to that composer.

  4. I get redirected to file factory but the link does not work. Have I missed something?

  5. 2 very interesting posts of 2 major American works. THX Bryan

  6. Hi Bryan, Would you be so kind to pass this message along to our friend Buster, whose blog unfortunately does not allow anonymous comments. Buster refers to your posting of this sonata fragment as performed by Ralph (the harpsichordist) Kirkpatrick and not pianist John Kirkpatrick. And while we are at it, were they related?

    Thanks, TWS

    1. John and Ralph were not related, as far as I can tell. One could be forgiven for thinking so, as they both championed 20th century music!

  7. Hi TWS - saw your note and thanks for the correction. I was at pains not to make that mistake in my original post - and then went ahead and made it on the second pass!

  8. Dear Buster and Bryan, And I was in such a rush to comment yesterday that I forgot to state the obvious: how much we music lovers are in your debt for so many marvelous posts. Thank you, TWS