5 de Diapason
Founded in Budapest at the height of the war by its first violin Sándor Végh in 1940, the Végh Quartet (here called "Végh and His Quartet"), which has delighted record collectors all over the world, played with exactly the same line-up for 40 years, a fact which is the source of its coherence and deep knowledge of its repertoire. In 1946 the Végh Quartet left Hungary to set up in Paris and take part in the Geneva Competition, which they won with brio, following an exceptional performance of Bartók's Fifth Quartet, which created a sensation. Sandor Végh had been taught by Jenő Hubay and Zoltán Kodály, before directing the first outings of the famous Hungarian Quartet, which worked closely with Bartók on his works.
After taking this much-coveted prize, in an era when international competitions were still few and far between, the Végh Quartet was propelled into a career on the world stage: they were applauded all over the world, as far away as South Africa. They enjoyed lasting fame thanks to their two recordings of Beethoven's quartets (one made in Boston in 1952; and another in the early 1970s in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland), as well as those of Béla Bartók, before they wound up in 1980 following a change of second violin and viola player. As for Sándor Végh, worshipped by Carlos Kleiber, he would pursue a career as a conductor up until his death in 1997.
This album is the first leg (two others are already announced and in the works) of a series of publications containing rare or previously-unreleased recordings. There are a lot of surprises here, with Ernest Bloch's splendid Second Quartet, Samuel Barber's entire Quartet in B Minor, from before his famous Adagio, arranged for string orchestra for Toscanini, drowned out the rest of his work.
We also can't resist the Second Quartet that Arthur Honegger wrote in his youth, inspired by his admiration for Beethoven's quartets; or the work by Hanns Jelinek, the now-somewhat-forgotten Austrian composer who studied under Berg, and, last but not least, Alban Berg's spellbinding Lyric Suite. © François Hudry/Qobuz