Haydn – Streichquartett G-dur Op. 76 Nr. 1 / Brahms – Streichquartett a-moll Op. 51 Nr. 2


Right after the second world war, Belgium cellist Robert Maas founded the Paganini Quartet. He managed to get sponsorship from a wealthy copper baron’s widow, Anna Clark. When he saw a set of four Stradivari instruments in a luthier shop in New York, she bought them for the quartet. The set of Strads was originally owned by mister virtuosity himself, the violinist Niccolo Paganini. The quartet existed in various lineups until 1966. So far ancient history.

The four members of the Tokyo String Quartet met each other in New York at the Juilliard. They happend to be all studying at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, got along, and decided to start a quartet, in 1969. How I don’t know, but the quartet secured the set of instruments that was played by the Paganinis, so they were offered the rare opportunity to play on such exquisite instruments. A whole set of them!

When the quartet disbanded forty recordings later in 2013, the instruments stayed together. They were used by a succession of quartets. According to the will of Mrs Clark, the four instruments were never to be separated, so they were offered to quartets like the Cleveland Quartet, Hagen Quartet, Quartetto di Cremona and the Kuss Quartet.

So, having said all that, you might wonder how the instruments sound on this recording. Well, they don’t. The Tokyo String Quartet got them in 1994, and this recording was made in 1971. And it is not on Spotify, so I’ll leave you disappointed today.

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