The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (160): Best string quartet of 1935

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (160): Best string quartet of 1935


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2020

The Goldschmidt work I love and cherish the most is a quartet he wrote on arrival in London as a Hitler refugee, a work that was first performed in a music-loving doctor’s waiting room on Harley Street.


  • fflambeau says:

    Too much artificial “busyiness” not any soaring lyrical, melodic sections. I can see why it is a rarity. Sorry.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Fine as it is, is it really better than the Bartok fifth? It received its world premiere by the Kolisch Quartet in 1935. Aha — it was written in August and September, 1934 — you’re off the hook!

  • Akutagawa says:

    I just spent 40 minutes listening to this. It’s Desert Island Discs with Herr Goldschmidt from 1994, from the BBC archives. Apologies if it’s not playable outside of the UK.

    It was absolutely lovely.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Walter Piston’s Quartet No 2 dates from 1935; memorably recorded by the Budapest String Quartet and others since. Michael Tippett’s first quartet also dates from 1935, and it is a fine piece. Between turmoil in Europe and the Depression, perhaps not a surprise that these young composers turned to quartets as an avenue of expression that had a decent chance at being performed.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      That was also Martha Coolidge’s heyday in commissioning quartets and conducting her chamber composition competitions. (She commissioned Bartok’s fifth, among many others.)

  • E says:

    Music is his native land, music his language.
    Thank you for yet another door opened on a world unknown til now.

  • Fred says:

    Personally one of my desert island discs is Les Dawson playing his “wrong note” version of Scott Joplin’s Entertainer and his variations on Some of my favourite things. Even Roy Plomley was impressed.

  • Julian Faigan says:

    A modern recording would be welcome.

    • fflambeau says:

      Why? And the fact that there are none should tell you that this piece of music has little appeal to the public.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Bartok is a strong contender. I hoped Shostakovich might settle the matter, but he didn’t write his first quartet until 1938, probably for reasons David nelson suggests for some other composers, but under shadow of official disapproval of his symphonies and opera.

    He locked his most dangerous work, the fourth symphony, in a drawer for 25 years until Stalin’s death in 1953. His fifth, nearly as dangerous, was popular after Mravinsky premiered it, and could be disguised (or misunderstood,as it still is in some quarters today).