Saturday, June 3, 2017

More from the Erling Bloch Quartet

In time for Carl Nielsen's birthday this year (June 9), I present the first recording ever made of a string quartet by him, done during the early months of the Nazi occupation of Denmark by the Erling Bloch Quartet. This recording does not appear to have been reissued on CD; Danacord passed over it in favor of the Koppel Quartet's 1954 account (though their 1984 LP set of early Nielsen chamber recordings did contain a rather inept transfer). I also offer two single discs by the Erling Bloch ensemble to ride, as it were, the coattails of the Nielsen. The details:

Nielsen: Quartet No. 4 in F Major, Op. 44
The Erling Bloch Quartet (Bloch-Pedersen-Kassow-Svendsen)
Recorded October 26, 1940
HMV DB 1-3, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 71.21 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 42.42 MB)

Hakon Børresen: Scherzo (from Quartet No. 2 in C Minor, 1939)
Schubert: Quartettsatz in C Minor, D. 703
The Erling Bloch Quartet (Bloch-Friisholm-Kassow-Svendsen)
Recorded November 19, 1942
HMV DB 5282, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC files, 23.70 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 14.98 MB)

Stravinsky: Concertino for String Quartet (1920)
The Erling Bloch Quartet (Bloch-Friisholm-Kassow-Christiansen)
Recorded August 26, 1952
HMV DA 5275, one 10-inch 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 13.81 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 9.16 MB)

The delightful scherzo by Hakon Børresen (1876-1954), a Dane of Norwegian heritage who studied with Johan Svendsen, reminds me of the Scherzo of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, with its pizzicato main section and arco middle section. Yes, the Schubert is complete on one side, thanks to a brisk tempo and the omission of the repeat. The Stravinsky is, I believe, the ensemble's last recording to be issued as a 78,

The issue series in which the Nielsen set found itself was HMV's first automatic set series in Denmark, most of whose numbers were recorded during the Second World War (except for one reissue). I am aware of the existence of the following issues in it:

DB 1-3  Nielsen: Quartet No. 4 (Erling Bloch Quartet)
DB 4-6  Schubert: Fantasia in C, Op. 159  (Erling Bloch, Lund Chistiansen)
DB 7-9  Schubert: "Unfinished" Symphony  (Stokowski, from 1927 Victors)
DB 10-13  Beethoven: "Kreutzer" Sonata  (Bloch, Christiansen)
DB 14-16  Beethoven: "Spring" Sonata  (Bloch, Christiansen)
DB 17-20  Nielsen: Symphony No. 2  (Jensen, earlier recording from 1944)


  1. Alternate links:

    Nielsen FLAC:

    Nielsen MP3:

    Borresen-Schubert FLAC:

    Borresen-Schubert MP3:

    Stravinsky FLAC:

    Stravinsky MP3:

  2. Fantastic, thank you *so* much! Best wishes, Nick

  3. Bryan, you are unearthing some incredible gems! Thanks for these fascinating records!