The Gramophone, August, 1929


a double bassoon and a bass clarinet. I found a charming orchestral record on a 10-inch magentalabel of Sm'enade Badine by Gabriel-Marie, and Pizzicato by Walton O'Donnell. This is played by the Hastings Municipal Orchestra and conducted by Basil Cameron, and I think i t should give pleasure to everybody (NLl). A new soprano, Olga Olgina, makes her debut to the gramophone in the Bell Song by Delibes, and a fine voice she has, though occasionally there is a suspicion of flatness. One always hesitates to accuse a record song of flatness, because even the best gramophone motors indulge in moods, but I hope that we shall hear more of this Russian soprano, whose voice has an individual quality (S.10002). Those songs of Robert Louis Stevenson's set by Vaughan "Williams are deliciously sung by the baritone, Dale Smith, on a 10-inch magenta-label (M.35). The composer reset the songs for the orchestra, and i t is the orchestral version which is recorded. Mr. Dale Smith is a singer whose performances have always given me the greatest pleasure, whether on records or over the microphone. I hope I have said enough to suggest to our readers that the monthly bulletin of the Decca Company is very well worth their attention.

The Columbia Company has good reason to be proud of that page in our July number which l isted the sixteen Quartets and the nine Symphonies of Beethoven. It is indeed an achievement of recording and publishing for which gramophone enthusiasts all over the world are deeply in their debt. I t has not been possible to print that l ist before, because i t was not until last month that the fifth of Beethoven's Quartets was issued. I t is played by the Capet String Quartet and published in an album of four light-blue 10-inch discs. Possibly some brief remarks about the sixteen Quartets of Beethoven will not be unwelcome. The first six quartets are all included in Opus 18 and they mark Beethoven's first period.

l'he First Quartet. Opus 18. No.1 in F. This was composed in 1800 when Beethoven was thirty years of age. It is usually called Mozartian, but the delicate externality of Mozart is already coloured here and there with the more direct appeal of Beethoven; the new self-conscious world, which was to culminate a century later in Freudianism, and I do not know what not beSides, is perhaps already hinted at in the Adagio. In the Finale of this quartet you will hear an anticipation of a melody in the Thi'/'d Symphony.

The S eoond Quartet. Opus 18. No.2 in G major. The music throughout this is less personal than in the Fi1'st Quartet. One or two of the players still wear their hair with powder. The second violin has even kept to knee-breeches, and is wondering, perhaps a trifle sourly, why the first violin is showing off on the G string. But the first violin is a young


man full of romance, believes in the French Revolution, and hopes to be another Paganini.

The Third Q'uartet. Opus 18. No.3 in D. The second violin with the powder in his hair and the knee-breeches has been replaced by a young second violin in touch with the time, and this young man gets a chance in the opening of the Andante with an exquisite melody.

The Fourth Qt~a1tet. Opus 18. No.4 in G minm·. Although C minor was Beethoven's favourite key, this is the only quartet written in that key. This is the quartet I always recommend that beginners should start with. The melodies are perfectly. entrancing and there is not a moment of melancholy from the first note to the last in this fairy-like composition. There is not even a slow movement. I must have played this quartet three or four times a week since i t was first published, and there is no mood of irritation i t will not heal.

The Fifth Quartet. Opus 18. No.5 in A. Here the Andante is the third movement. I t is a folk song and has a set of four delightful variations. The rest of the quartet is not so interesting.

The Sixth Qua?iet. Opus 18. No.6 in B flat. This quartet was composed in the same year as the First, but much of i t seems to anticipate Beethoven's second period. The conventional construction of a string quartet is abandoned. We get a moving episode in the middle called La Maloncolia. Nobody had hitherto used a string quartet to state so definitely the mood of the composer when he wrote i t . The 'cello has some passages which carry us forward years, i t seems, in their sombre statement of melancholy.

The Seventh Quartet. Opus 59. No.1 in F. This is the first of the three quartets dedicated to Count Rasoumoffsky and usually known as the Rasoumoffsky Quartets. In this quartet the 'cello plays a very important part, probably because the composer's patron played this instrument himself. 'Ve get a Russian folk song with variations. ' IVe get all sorts of effects that no composer of string quartets had ever dreamed of using in string quartets before. The Adagio is one of those adagios of Beethoven's second period, which is to say as lovely as anything in music. The Eighth Q1tartet. Opus 59. No.2 in E minor.

The Adagio here is even more lovely than the last, and we get another Russian folk song in the third movement. . The quartet ends in one of Beethoven's moods of boisterous happiness, when he dances about like a gOOd-natured elephant.

The Ninth QUa1iet. Opus 59. No.3 in G Major. I do not myself enjoy this quartet so much as i ts