Monday, August 12, 2013

Walton by the Hollywood String Quartet

The Hollywood String Quartet
The legendary Hollywood String Quartet (Felix Slatkin and Paul Shure, violins; Paul Robyn, viola; Eleanor Aller Slatkin, cello) has been well-served on CD, with most of their Capitol Records output from 1949-1958 having appeared on the Testament label.  Their performance of the Walton string quartet, the work's first-issued recording (a 1948 version by the Philharmonia Quartet for English Columbia was apparently made, but never issued) also appears on the Testament lists, but there's a slight difference between that version and the one I present here.  The original recording omitted the repeat in the Scherzo (second movement), for the players felt that the repeat detracted from the excitement of the piece.  The composer didn't agree, so he asked that it be re-recorded - and it was, a year later; this is what you hear on the Testament release.  The original recording sans repeat is here:

Walton: String Quartet in A Minor (1947)
The Hollywood String Quartet
Recorded November 2 and 3, 1949
Capitol set KCM-8058, three 45-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 70.72 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 35.78 MB)

On a personal note, this set represents my first-ever purchase on eBay some 15 years ago.  It was part of a lot of some 50 Capitol classical 45 sets, all in mint condition; if I remember correctly, they had previously belonged to a Capitol employee at their factory in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the eBay seller, whose main focus is pottery and jewelry and who appears to still be going strong as a "power seller" in Scranton, had somehow fallen heir to them.  There was some good stuff in that lot but this Walton quartet, for me, is the cream of the crop. Many of the sets had a brochure advertising Capitol's then-new classical series, and I've added scans of this to the download.  For several months they made a great ballyhoo about offering classical records at all three speeds, but when it became obvious that LP was going to win they quietly withdrew the 45 and 78 sets.  I don't think the re-recording of the Walton quartet's Scherzo made it to either short-play format.


  1. Wonderful - I had no idea that this existed.

  2. Hi,

    Fascinating stuff - I do hope that I like it - don't normally listen to chamber or instrumental music as there is so much glorious orchestral music to keep me going.


    Douglas (UK)

    1. Walton later rearranged the piece for full string orchestra, as "Sonata for Strings" - I don't have it, but Youtube does:

  3. I love your collection. But your latest download system is rejected by McAfee as dangerous.

  4. Hi, just had to thank you for this one. I haven't heard any Walton before. Loved the third movement and agree with the liner notes about his economy of means. I have downloaded many gems from your site and now listen to more old recordings than new. Also absolutely loved the Szell and the Budapest Quartet. Brilliant. Many thanks.