The Schubert string quintet is one of those pieces that is always there when you need it. The slow movement in particular is deep in the heart of many musicians (and gratifyingly, its also one of those pieces that recurs on Desert Island Discs), but it’s all amazing.*
I’ve been appreciating the 1941 studio performance by the Budapest Quartet with Benar Heifetz—part of their amazingly busy recording schedule, and just as bebop was evolving:
Indeed, the group’s history makes a fascinating history of the metamorphoses of a string quartet under the conditions of the 20th century.
Benar Heifetz was the older brother of Jascha—who is quoted as saying:
One Russian is an anarchist. Two Russians are a chess game. Three Russians are a revolution. Four Russians are the Budapest String Quartet.
Which reminds me of the old Cold War joke:
What’s the definition of a string quartet?
A Russian symphony orchestra after a tour of the West.
For viola jokes, see here.
*PS Anyone got a good fingering for the ending of the Scherzo?
I’ve got a sneaky one, but hey—what do I know? Available on request… The last note may be “hit and hope”; Hugh Maguire said he had about a 70% strike rate—better than in football, where the long high ball upfield in the direction of Peter Crouch’s head is even less reliable. But how to negotiate the preceding run is debatable too.