Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a real collector's piece. When I started to play my advance review copy, without any sleeve-notes for enlightenment, and heard the seductive strains of Gershwin's Lullaby (what a captivating little gem) greeting me across the room I thought what a good idea it was to compile a record of attractive shorter pieces designed to overcome the hypothetical man-in-the-street's fear of chamber music. But I soon realized that the record was fulfilling another more important service in gathering together a choice assortment of string quartet rareties conspicuous by their absence from the catalogue. Potential best-seller as it is, even the Gershwin piece wasn't exactly in 'hot' supply before. This Lullaby tied for first place in my affections with Puccini's I crisantemi, a short, early neglected piece he composed "in a night" after the death of Prince Amadeo, Duke of Savoy; with its typically sensuous nostalgia for all things loved and lost, it is no surprise to discover that its two leading themes were reincarnated in the last act of Manon Lescaut. Haydn's Andante and Minuet are of special interest as his last essay in the string quartet medium (eventually published as Op. 103). Though advancing years prevented him from completing the work in four movements, the Minuet is quite astonishingly highly charged and urgent. Mendelssohn's Andante (with variations) and Scherzo, both dating from his last year, were also probably intended as the middle movements of a complete work. Here it is not so much the slow movement as the Scherzo that captivates the ear, chiefly because of Mendelssohn's unerring success with elves and sprites all his life—they certainly abound here. Wolf's late Intermezzo has many moments of startling caprice and charm, but also some working-out patches that sound more laboured than anything from his unloved fellow citizen of Vienna, Brahms. The Juilliard Quartet put as much of their minds and hearts into the recital as if they were tackling late Beethoven. At first I thought the acoustics, or engineering, made their tone sound a bit wiry. But your ear soon tunes in.
– Joan Chissell, Gramophone [1/1975, reviewing these performances on LP]
Robert Mann, violin; Earl Carlyss, violin; Raphael Hillyer, viola; Claus Adam, cello.
The program chosen for this album strongly reflects not only the taste of the Juilliard Quartet but also vividly illustrates how the miniature in music has continued to appeal to composers of varied background throughout the centuries.