Decca - 1 LP - LXT 2591 - (p) 06/1951
London - 1 LP - LL 323 - (p) 01/1952
Amadeus - 7 CDs - AMP 007-013 - (p) 2009

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

String Quartet in F major, Op. 41 No. 2
20' 57"
- Allegro vivace
5' 57"

- Andante, quasi variazioni
8' 00"

- Scherzo (Presto). Trio 2' 57"

- Allegro molto vivace 4' 03"

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

String Quartet in E minor
21' 37"
- Allegro 7' 14"

- Andantino 7' 09"

- Prestissimo 3' 05"

- Scherzo Fuga (Allegro assai mosso)
4' 09"

- Paolo Borciani, Elisa Pegreffi, violino
- Piero Farulli, viola
- Franco Rossi, violoncello


Luogo e data di registrazione
West Hampstead Studios, Londra (Inghilterra) - 24, 27-29 novembre 1950

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer

Matrici 78rpm
Decca - AR15623-28 (Verdi)
Decca - AR15629-34 (Schumann)

Prima Edizione LP
Decca - LXT 2591 - (1 LP) - (p) 06/1951 - Mono
London - LL 323 - (1 LP) - (p) 01/1952 - Mono

Prima Edizione CD
Paragon/Amadeus - AMP 007-013 - [7 CDs - (2, 6-9; 3, 1-4)] - (p) 2009 - ADD

I riferimenti a date e codici sono stati desunti dal libro "Decca Classical, 1929-2009" di Philip Stuart.

Schumann: String Quartet in F major, Op. 41, No. 2
Schumann always tended to concentrate upon one form of composition at a time, creating a number of works in that form at short intervals. Thus in 1842 he produced a number of chamber-works, including his three String Quartets, published as Opus 41, which were written during the Spring of that year. The Quartets were outcome of an intensive study of the chamber-music of Haydn and Mozart, and of all Schumann's works they are the most purely musical, without any extraneous poetical "programme".
The first movement of the F major Quartet is highly concentrated in form, being almost entirely developed from the gracious flowing subject played by the first violin at the outset. The continuation of this melody at the ninth bar takes the music into the dominant key. This is the nearest approach there is to a second subject. The first bar of this dominant theme furnishes an idea for development, but it is soon put aside in favour of the first subject which returns in the tonic key on the second violin. Individual phrases of this first subject are used independently as counterpoints to the subject itself. Before the double bar the dominant key returns, but the material is provided by the opening bars of the first subject.
In the working-out much use is made of arpeggio figures on the violins and viola, which give delicacy and richness to the texture. The recapitulation is reached after a pause and some chords alternately loud and soft. It is at first an exact repeat of the opening; even the continuation appears in the dominant. Only the final clauses are transposed into the tonic. A short coda, consisting of alternating loud and soft chords followed by a rising figure for the first violin, completes the movement.
The second movement in A flat is a set of variations on a tenderly expressive melody, whose interest is greatly enhanced by the syncopations which seem to hold back its onward flow. There are four variations, the first being an intricate web of counterpoint under a canto fermo on the first violin. In the second variation the violins reduce the theme to semiquaver figures over a pizzicato accompaniment. The third (molto pi lento) treats the melody in dreamy sixths over a tonic and dominant pedal held by the violoncello. The pace quickens to un poco pi vivace for the fourth variation, which makes a vigorous and downright contrast to the poetry of the rest. A reprise of the theme in its original form and a coda (pi lento) complete the movement.
The brisk Scherzo in C minor is in the normal ternary form with a Trio in the major key and in a contrasting 2/4 rhythm.
The finale is a rondo in the main key of the work. The main subject is a swiftrunning theme in semiquavers with a staccato accompaniment. A second theme, marked dolce, appears in the dominant. After the repeat of the exposition this second theme reappears at greater lenght in A flat. The exuberant main subject then returns and dominates the remainder of the movement with its youthful vitality.
Verdi: String Quartet in E minor
During the Spring of 1873 Verdi was a Naples
superintending the production there of Aida, which had been given its first performance in Cairo at the end of 1871. Owing to the illness of the prima donna the production was delayed, and Verdi occupied himself with the composition of a String Quartet, which was given its first performance privately at his house in Naples.
It may seem odd that a composer so completely engrossed with the theatre should have produced, as his solitary instrumental composition of any importance, a work in the most austere medium of all. But Verdi was, especially at this time, much pre-occupied with general musical principles and with the problems of musical education. He had lately been offered, and had rather reluctantly refused, the directorship of the Conservatorio at Naples, and, in declining the appointment, he remarked upon the severe training in counterpoint and fugue which he would have considered it his duty to impose upon the students. He ended with the famous aphorism: "Torniamo all'antico; sar un progresso" (Let us turn back to the old; that way is progress). The Quartet was the product of such thoughts as these, an exercise in the self-discipline which he considered good for others. It is no imitation of the older instrumental masters, any more than the coral writing of the Requiem is an imitation of Palestrina whom Verdi greatly revered; but it adheres to the principles embodied in the music of the past, whose neglect seemed to Verdi to have led to looseness and lack of style.
The Quartet adheres then to the classical form of construction. Yet, while the themes are arranged in the conventional manner and their treatment follows well-known lines, the music is quite individual and characteristic of the Verdi we know in the theatre.
The first movement opens with a statement by the second violin on the G string of the dramatic main subject, which has a recognizable relationship to one of the themes associated with Amneris in Aida. A little chromatic figure, first heard on the violoncello as an accompaniment to the first violin's repetition of the main theme, becomes important later on, for it is used as a persistent accompaniment to a new and suaver theme. After these ideas have been worked at some lenght, the pace broadens momentarily for the entry of the second subject in the relative major key. This is a charming and more tranquil melody which soon gives place to ideas derived from the first subject, the little chromatic figure again being conspicuous. The development is chiefly concerned with the main theme of the first subject, which lends itself admirably to imitative counterpoint between the four voices. At the end there is the same lead into the second subject, which now appears in E major, and in that tonality the remainder of the original exposition is now recapitulated. A coda in the minor key, beginning with a fugato upon one of the themes belonging to the first subject, rounds off the movement deshingly.
The Andantino is a set of free variations on the elegant theme played by the first violin and accompanied by the violoncello with alternating plucked and bowed notes. The mood is that of the old minuet. The chromaticism of the harmony and the wide range of tonalities, which go a long distance away from the tonic C major, give this otherwise simple movement a romantic and rather restless air.
The third movement is a very fast Scherzo with a theme designed for speed. The Trio in the tonic major has a cantabile melody for the violoncello.
The finale is a fugue bubbling over with good humour. This movement, so "learned" in construction, seems to presage the laughter of Falstaff's fairy tormentors. The form is free, following the dictates of the spontaneous vitality of the theme, and so gives rise to many delicious touches of comedy
LXT 2591
(back cover)

Nel 1950, ancora a novembre, il Quartetto Italiano di nuovo a Londra per registrare l'op. 41 n. 2 di Schumann e il Quartetto di Verdi. Ci arriva dopo un giro in Svezia, Norvegia e Danimarca in ottobre, due registrazioni alla RAI il 17 e 31 in cui esegue un Quartetto di Giardini, uno di Boccherini e uno di Haydn allinterno di un ciclo di trasmissioni sul quartetto d'archi nel 700 curate da Remo Giazotto, un concerto a Milano in novembre per la Societ del Quartetto (con l'op. 77 n. 1 di Haydn, il Quartetto n. 12 di Milhaud e lop. 130 di Beethoven) e uno a Venezia con lo stesso programma, conCcerti in Inghilterra, a Cambridge e Oxford (con Haydn, lop. 168 di Schubert e Verdi), trasmissioni radio, presumibilmente per la BBC, il 24 e 25, altri concerti in Olanda, prima di tornare alla RAI per una nuova puntata del ciclo di Giazotto, in cui esegue lop. 64 n. 6 e lop. 77 n. 1 di Haydn. E tutto ci soltanto nei mesi di ottobre e novembre; questo era il ritmo degli impegni, un ritmo che sarebbe ancora cresciuto negli anni a venire.
Il Quartetto op. 41 n. 2 di Schumann registrato in "prima mondiale". Per strano che possa sembrare, nessun quartetto l'aveva inciso fino ad allora. un'interpretazione splendida e, a mio parere, essenziale per capire gli sviluppi futuri. Il suono sta mutando, ha ormai quel respiro e quellemozione che ricordiamo ancor oggi, in aggiunta alla lucentezza e purezza che aveva avuto fin dall'inizio; il fraseggio sta acquistando una straordinaria libert, e una maniera di sorridere, uno slancio leggero e pieno di sottintesi che fino a qui non avevo notato. Quella maniera di suonare che ancora negli anni Settanta pareva proiettata nel futuro era gi stata conquistata, dopo solo cinque anni di attivit, ed una maniera che per realizzarsi si costruita una tecnica di diteggiatura e di archeggio tutta sua, nuova, ancor oggi discussa. Cos, per evitare portamenti, Borciani suona il terzo movimento senza i tradizionali riferimenti delle posizioni, facendo correre la mano sinistra liberamente come corre la mano di un pianista sulla tastiera. Anche il vibrato nuovo: ora parte integrante del suono, non pi una sovrastruttura, e concorre a definirne luce e consistenza. Il secondo movimento suonato con straordinaria inventiva di suoni, terzo e quarto con brio contagioso. Fu registrato una seconda volta per la Philips nel 1970.
L`incisione del Quartetto di Verdi una delle pi celebri del Quartetto Italiano, e da sempre considerata un riferimento assoluto. un'opera genialissima, suonata qui con una freschezza, musicale e tecnica, e unironia che non hanno paragoni. L'ultimo movimento una specie di gioco di prestigio quartettistico, fatto di incastri fulminei e colpi darco brillantissimi. Ho sentito pi di una volta Borciani ricordare con divertito spavento del momento in cui si dovette inciderlo "sulle cere", la tecnica di registrazione di allora, che non consentiva tagli n riascolti: si doveva decidere se licenziare il disco alla cieca, senza poter controllare ci che era stato registrato. l'unica incisione discografica del Quartetto di Verdi, la RAI ne conserva un'esecuzione del 1960,
Fulvio Luciani
(dal libretto a corredo del cofanetto Paragon/Amadeus "Quartetto Italiano - The Early Recordings 1946-1952")