Our vintage Budapest Quartet clips from the 1940's give a glimpse of the Library's past aas an institution that has literally made music history in the 20th century, and created a mecca for chamber music lovers. Also--a stunning performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet by a modern ensemble, the Leipzig Quartet, with clarinet virtuoso Ricardo Morales, first chair clarinetist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The adjective "legendary" is usually used to describe the extraordinary Budapest String Quartet, which was in residence at the Library of Congress for 22 years. They were, in their day, "the most famous artists known by name in the world," says Robert Mann, the founder of the Juilliard Quartet. The Budapest's memorable radio broadcasts from the Library helped to create an audience for chamber music in America. Carried nationally by the NBC and CBS radio networks, their concerts here were played on the Library's Stradivari instruments. Listeners heard the first radio airings of the complete Beethoven quartet cycle, as well as premieres of major contemporary works and collaborations with artists like Gregor Piatigorsky, Artur Rubenstein, and George Szell.
Joseph Roisman and Alexander Schneider, violins; Boris Kroyt, viola; and Mischa Schneider, cello.
In this broadcast you hear a brief clip of a Budapest performance with the Belgian clarinetist Gustave Langenus, available in "The Library of Congress Mozart Recordings," a 2-disc set in Bridge Records' "Great Performances from the Library of Congress" series.
Gustave Langenus appeared with the Budapest here on September 14, 1940, a concert that was broadcast live nationwide by NBC's "Red Network." Here you experience the Budapest in its golden era, with Joseph Roisman and Alexander Schneider, violins; Boris Kroyt, viola; and Mischa Schneider, cello.
For chamber music fans--this entire 2-volume set is available as a Bridge Records release, on iTunes.
Brahms Clarinet Quintet
Johannes Brahms composed his Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, op. 115, in his later years. After finishing the G-Major String Quintet, op. 111, in 1890, Brahms, now nearly sixty and made acutely aware of his own mortality by the deaths of several close friends, declared it his final work, and began destroying pieces he deemed unworthy of publication. But during a visit to the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen in March 1891, he heard the court orchestra and was highly impressed with the playing of Richard Muhlfeld. Trained as a violinist, Muhlfeld had taught himself the clarinet and moved to the woodwind section of the orchestra in 1876, becoming principal in 1879. His refined musicality inspired Brahms to write four pieces for the clarinet--a Trio, a Quintet, and two Sonatas--his last chamber works.
In the summer of 1981 at Bad Ischl, Austria's oldest therapeutic brine baths, Brahms composed the Clarinet Trio, op. 114, and the Clarinet Quintet, op. 115, both of which were premiered by Muhlfeld in Berlin in December 1891. The clarinet, along with the horn and the cello, was one of Brahms's favorite instruments; he particularly liked the warm sonority of a single clarinet in its middle register. In his four works for clarinet, Brahms eschewed outward virtuosity in favor of intimacy and tonal beauty. The lasting appeal of the Quintet resides in "its perfect expression of a spirit of mello reflection, tinged with autumnal melancholy." It shows Brahms at the height of his compositional prowess and exemplifies the reconciliation of the Classical ideal of fornal unity with the Romantic sine qu non of "rhapsodic freedom and reverie."
---Tomas C. Hernandez, Music Division
Hailed as "one of the towering and most versatile quartets of our time," the sophisticated and imaginative Leipzig String Quartet has toured extensively throughout Europe, Israel, Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America. Recent American engagements in North America include appearances at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Frick Collection, the Library of Congress, and in prestigious venues in Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver.
The quartet has its own concert series at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, where it has offered complete cycles of the First and Second Viennese Schools, as well as giving many world premieres. An impressive discography offers more than sixty CDs spanning repertoire from Mozart to Cage. Recordings by the Leipzig have won such prizes as the Diapason d'Or, the Premios CD Compact award, the 1999 and 2000 Echo and Indie awards, and the Echo prize for 2003 and 2004
Audio: Montage: brief audio clips of Gertrude Clarke Whittall, donor of the Library's Stradivari instruments, and violinist Alexander Schneider. Followed by the Budapest's performance of Dvorak's Lento assai movement, from the Op. 96 "American" quartet