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The Hungarian String Quartet, one of the great performing ensembles throughout the 1930s through to the 1970s when the group disbanded, in 1972.
The Quartet was originally brought together with Sándor Végh (a pupil of Jenő Hubay and Zoltán Kodály at Budapest Academy) as the first violin, but was set onto a balanced footing when the virtuoso violinist Zoltán Székely (graduate of the same Academy, as was Dénes Koromzay (1913–2001) was recruited in 1937. At that point Sándor Végh moved to the second violin desk, and in 1940 he left to found the Végh Quartet. He was then replaced by the Russian Alexandre Moszkowsky. The Quartet had made its debut in 1935, and met with swift success. Szekely was a friend of Béla Bartók’s, and the group became rapidly known by giving the Hungarian première performance of the Bartok 5th Quartet, which it studied with the composer. By 1938, the group had been heard in every major city of Western Europe.
During the war they were trapped in the Netherlands, and devoted the period to the intensive study of the Beethoven quartets, which were subsequently launched upon the world in the brilliant career which the group achieved after 1945. In 1950 they settled in the USA. In around 1956 the cello, and around 1960 the second violin desk, was reassigned, and in this new form the Quartet continued to maintain its busy program of performance until 1972, while also undertaking teaching positions and the coaching of younger instrumentalists. In 1957, the newly configured Quartet performed in Boston for the Peabody Mason Concert series.
This recording, earlier than the one done for EMI in 1959, is from 1953 for the legendary Concert Hall Society label. It also features Laurent Halleux on viola. Researching this recording, I don’t see it reissued in any form and I believe it’s been out of print since, I would imagine, the early 1960s, if not before.
There is certainly no shortage of present-day recordings of this Quartet. But The Hungarians were a special breed. It’s not entirely known if this recording shows up on discographies or not. On a few it doesn’t. So if you aren’t familiar, this could be a pleasant surprise.
Enjoy in any case.