- String Quartet No. 21 in D major ("Prussian 1"), K. 575
- String Quartet No. 20 in D major ("Hoffmeister"), K. 499
- Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115
As the photo on the cover suggests, this is a historical recording, consisting of performances from 1947 and 1951. The recordings were made in New York City and environs, and they were until their reissue by the Bridge label quite hard to come by. The Stuyvesant Quartet consisted of players who had been in the wartime NBC Symphony Orchestra and other broadcast and terrestrial orchestral ensembles in New York, which together represented an accumulation of talent on a par with any other in the world. Clearly these musicians played chamber music at times; equally clear is the lack of documentation of those performances. The Stuyvesant Quartet was among the first purely American string quartets represented on recordings. The album is thus of considerable historical interest. Bridge has issued several other recordings by the Stuyvesant group, including one with jazz-to-classical crossover clarinetist Benny Goodman, and those intending to sample a release in the series might be drawn to one of the other volumes: the Stuyvesant Quartet was known for adventurous programming, and the mainstream Brahms-and-Mozart program here was atypical of its output. Those going elsewhere may have a point, but they will miss some wonderful, muscular performances that capture the broad motivic sweep of the Brahms, whose developmental energy carries across movement boundaries. Tempos are quick but not abrupt. The Mozart performances, which as modern-oriented quartets are wont to do sacrifices grace for structural insight, are not quite as successful, but the passionate slow movements are of a sort not often heard anymore, and the performances are absolutely never boring. Highly recommended.