Decca - 1 LP - LXT 2679 - (p) 06/1952
London - 1 LP - LL 321 - (p) 01/1952
Urania - 2 CDs - URN 22.278 - (p) 2005
Amadeus - 7 CDs - AMP 007-013 - (p) 2009

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

String Quartet in C major, Op. 59 No. 3 "Rasomowsky"
30' 07"
- Introduzione: Andante con moto - Allegro vivace
8' 07"

- Andante con moto quasi allegretto
10' 16"

- Menuetto (Grazioso) e Trio - Coda 5' 04"

- Finale: Allegro molto 6' 40"

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Quartettsatz in C minor. Op. posth. (D 703)
10' 53"
- Allegro assai - Andante
10' 53"

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


Luogo e data di registrazione
West Hampstead Studios, Londra (Inghilterra)
- 28 novembre 1949 (Beethoven)
- 28-29 novembre 1949 (Schubert)

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer

Matrici 78rpm
Decca - AR 13322-29 (Beethoven) - (p) postponed from 03/1949
Decca - AR 14327-28: (Schubert)

Prima Edizione 78rpm
Decca - K 2329 - (12") - (p) 04/1950 (Schubert)

Prima Edizione LP
Decca - LXT 2679 - (1 LP) - (p) 06/1952 - Mono
London - LL 321 - (1 LP) - (p) 01/1952 - Mono

Prima Edizione CD
Urania - URN 22.278 - [2 CD - (2, 1)] - (p) 2005 - ADD - (Schubert)
Paragon/Amadeus - AMP 007-013 - [7 CDs - (2, 1-5)] - (p) 2009 - ADD

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

Beethoven's sixteen string quartets divide into three distinct groups which can be very neatly pigeon-holed in the three periods of his creative life first noted by his biographer, Lenz. That in C major (Op. 59, No. 3) is the last of the three "Rasumovsky" quartets of 1806, which, together with the quartets in E flat (Op. 74) and F minor (Op. 95), comprise the "middle-period" group by which time he was at the height of his powers with such orchestral masterpieces to his credit as the "Eroica" symphony and the violin and fourth piano concertos. Count Rasumovsky, who commissioned the famous three of Op. 59, was the son of the younger of two romantic peasant brothers whose charms carried them to the arms of no less distinguished ladies than the Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great; the son himself, too, had great personal attractativeness which he combined with diplomatic skill (he was Russian Ambassador at the Viennese Court for over Twenty years) and generous participation in and patronage of the arts.
According to Thayer, Rasumovsky's only condition was that each quartet should contain a Russian folk-song. Beethoven readily compiled in the first two of the set, and to-day it therefore seems all the more suprising that the critic of the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, hearing them for the first time in February 1807, pronounced them "very long and difficult... deep in thought and well worked out but not generally comprehensible". Exception, however, was made in favour of the third (where there is nothing approaching a popular tune), which the critic thought "must captivate every cultivated amateur by its individuality, melody, and harmonic power".
The explanation of this early nineteenth century preference surely is that the third quartet in C, both in the substance and cut of its cloth, conforms more closely than either of its fellows to the classical conception of a quartet. Admittedly the wonderful Andante con moto introduction to the first movement, with its mysterious slow chords groping their way through indeterminate tonal mist, is more daringly forward-looking than anything in the other two works. But once the broad daylight of C major enables the music to break into Allegro vivace tempo, the movement takes on an impersonal, eighteenth century manner in its conservative harmony, orderly semiquaver runs, and orthodox adherence to the classical sonata-form pattern (even to the second subject in the dominant key), though, as other writers have already pointed out, the notable development section discovers, far more significance in an ascending semitone (taken from the last of the several motifs which comprise the first subject) than the eighteenth century would have dreamed of.
To many listeners the outstanding movement of the quartet is the second, Andante con moto quasi allegretto, in A minor, whose gentle melancholy suggests acceptance of the inevitable such as might eventually follow some violent storm of grief. The smooth quaver flow of the fist subject in A minor is continued throughout the whole movement except for a few uprising semiquavers in the slightly happier C major second subject; between these two main ideas there is an important link, closely akin to the first subject in feeling, which provides the material for the development section (bent on exploring all the flat minor keys, starting with the flattest) before a recapitulation in which the second subject precedes the first.
The Minuetto and Trio, like the first movement, manages to conceal much of the composer's firceful, revolutionary self beneath a faade of elegant eighteenth century manners. Both sections of the gracious minuet are repeated, as also both sections of the sturdier and more masculine trio, and there is a formal da capo before a coda which acts as a link to the finale. The link, however, is true Beethoven in its initial plunge into an unexpected C minor pianissimo and its sunsequent harmonic enterprise.
The appearance of a fugue of the final Allegro molto is a sure sign of the composer's maturity. This one, however, is a cunning compromise between fugue and sonata form. A fugal exposition worked from a long, busy subject serves as first subject proper, and after a gentle and not very important second subject in the dominant key of G, the fugue subject itself, torn limb from limb, forms the basis of a brilliant development section which reveals the full measure of the composer's contrapuntal skill. Equally remarkable is the way he rewrites the fugal exposition, with a brand new counter-subject, on its recapitulation and crowns the movement with a coda that is like a second development saction in its substance and importance.
Schubert left what is now known an his Quartettsatz still less finished than his famous B minor symphony; besides the magnificent Allegro assai in C minor, fully worked out as a movement in sonata-form, all that exists are some forty-one bars of an Andante in A flat major. He grew up in a family which found its chief recreation and pleasure in the performance of chamber music, and from an early age wrote many works both for his family and his friends to play. He was only twenty-three when he began the Quartettsatz, but besides the ease of workmanship which characterises all his juvenilia, there is in this C minor Allegro assai a new romantic spirit and profundity of feeling which enables it to rank with the very finest music of his maturity. Even though the dark but highly inflammable (to wit the fortissimo Neapolitan sixth in bar nine) C minor first subject is forgotten in the expansive, sunny lyricism of the second in A flat major, its brooding first bar is soon back again before the lyrical third subject appears in G, and indeed it pervades the movement (save when the sunny second subject is recapitulated) with remarkable effect. So as to leave it as a last thought with the listener, Schubert rearranges his subjects in the recapitulation, first bringing back No. 2 in B flat and E flat major, then No. 3 in C major, and finally the all important No. 1 in its original key of C minor.
LXT 2679
(back cover)


Nel 1949 i concerti sono ormai pi di 100 e alle nazioni gi visitate si aggiungono Svezia, Cecoslovacchia, Danimarca, Norvegia e Olanda. In Italia suonano alla Scala per la Societ del Quartetto. In novembre sono nuovamente a Londra per registrare lop. 59 n. 3 di Beethoven e il Quartettsatz di Schubert.
Il Quartetto op. 59 n. 3 di Beethoven non cos straordinario come l'op. 59 n. 1 che verr di l a poco, ma l'impressione che il suono del complesso sia, solo un anno pi tardi, ancor pi conipatto. Il secondo movimcnto non ha ancora quella magica sensazione di galleggiamento che avr nella successiva versione Philips del 1973, ma tutta lesecuzione ha nitore e chiarezza, e una lodevole rinuncia a un uso effettistico della velocit, mentre gli interventi di Farulli hanno quel suono limpido e consistente, un autentico suono di viola, che ancor oggi ricordiamo.
Il Quartettsatz D. 703 di Schubert fu inciso con irrisoria facilit: ununica presa per ogni facciata. staccato a quel modo cos discusso, un poco pi lento di quel che non si senta da altri, che il Quartetto Italiano ha mantenuto anche in seguito. una scelta che lo restituisce alla sua natura di primo movimento di un quartetto incompiuto, mentre spesso lo si sente come fosse un pezzo brillante. In futuro, alcuni colpi darco balzati saranno eseguiti alla corda, per un controllo del colore e del carattere ancor pi sottile, ma il tono gi quello della grande interpretazione, senza indulgenze e senza esteriorit, e con una affascinante e dolente cantabilit. Fu registrato altre due volte per la Philips, nel 1965 e nel 1979, quest'ultima con Dino Asciolla.

Fulvio Luciani
(dal libretto a corredo del cofanetto Paragon/Amadeus "Quartetto Italiano - The Early Recordings 1946-1952")