CD-1169(2) Béla Bartók: Complete String Quartets.
The Végh Quartet


The long unavailable 1954 Paris mono cycle. Végh Quartet: Sándor Végh, Violin I; Sándor Zöldy, Violin II; Georges Janzer, Viola; Paul Szabó, Cello.Sound restoration (2005): Maggi Payne. Notes: Abram Loft    AAD   UPC # 0 17685-11692 6 

BUZZ:  This 1954 cycle originally appeared on three French Columbia LPs (in the U.S., on the Angel label). As such, it wasamong the first Bartók quartet cycles available to LP collectors. Since then, there have been dozens of other versions,including a 1972 stereo remake from the Véghs themselves, with the same membership, on the French Astrée label.Nevertheless Music & Arts has chosen to release this earlier set  because of its unique artistry.

Violinist Sándor Végh was born in the Transylvanian city Kolozsvár (now Cluj) on 17 May 1912. He studied violin at the Budapest conservatory with Jenö Hubay; by the time he graduated (in 1930) he had won important prizes and appeared as a soloist under Richard Strauss’s baton. Later, he played chamber music with the likes of Furtwängler, Fischer, Kempff, and Serkin. In 1952 he met Casals who invited him to teach at Zermatt and to take part in numerous Prades Festival performances. He was a founding member of the New Hungarian Quartet in 1935, serving initially as first violinist and then (after Zoltán Székely assumed that post) as second. He formed his eponymous quartet in 1940; his partners were second violinist Sándr Zöldy, violist Georges Janzer, and cellist Paul Szabó. The Quartet left Hungary in 1946 and settled in France, where Végh was given French citizenship in 1953. They played together until 1978, when Zöldy and Janzer were replaced by Philipp Naegele and Bruno Giuranna. The Quartet disbanded in 1980 but Végh, who had taken up conducting in the 1960s, enjoyed a second career as conductor of the Salzburg Mozarteum’s Camerata Academica (from 1978 to 1997) and of other chamber ensembles, bringing to a worldwide public works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and 20th century composers. He died on 7 January 1997, near Salzburg.

The Végh Quartet’s most important studio recordings, besides their Bartók, comprise two Beethoven cycles, the first a mono version for Les Discophiles Français (Paris) in 1952, the second a stereo remake for Auvidis/Valois in 1972/74. Of the former, reissued by Music & Arts on a Diapason award-winning CD set, critic Ray Tuttle wrote: “Although the Véghs played in what was a modern style—more concerned with technique and with a smooth blending of the four instruments than earlier quartets were—performance traits from earlier in the twentieth century persisted in a vestigial form. The Véghs generally used less vibrato and more portamento than quartets that ascended in the 1950s and 60s. The resulting tendency towards tonal sentimentality was more than counteracted by the toughness of the Végh Quartet’s interpretations.” Végh knew Bartók and as a member of the New Hungarian Quartet, which specialized in its early years in contemporary music, often performed his works. (It was this ensemble that gave the Hungarian premiere of the Fifth Quartet in 1936 and was the foremost exponent of Bartók’s earlier Quartets in Hungary during the late 1930s). And after he founded his own Quartet in 1940 (the year Bartók emigrated to the U.S.), Végh continued to pioneer the Bartók pieces. Numerous critics contend that the present recording presents one of the most convincing interpretations of these 20th-century masterpieces.


© 2014 Music & Arts Programs of America. All rights reserved.