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CD Review: Brahms/Mozart

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Bridge Records has lately been involved in reissuing recordings of New York classical musicians from the 1940s and '50s. The Stuyvesant Quartet was founded in 1938 by brothers Sylvan Shulman and lon-time Hudson resident Alan Shulman; they were one of the first American string quartets that could hold their own with chamber groups from Europe. The Stuyvesant is remembered today mainly through its alter ego, the New Friends of Rhythm, as joined by harpist Laura Newell and playing Alan Shulman's jazzy confections on NBC radio's program "The Chamber Society of Lower Basin Street." This Bridge disc is the first digital release devoted entirely to the Stuyvesant in their "day job," performing two Mozart Quartets and the Brahms Clarinet Quartet with legendary reedman Al Gallodoro.

The playing is warm, romantic, and sentimental in a manner that quartets seldom employ these days, particularly in the Mozart; it is seamless and, for the era, thoroughly professional. Gallodoro is especially terrific in the Brahms; it was recorded in 1947 for postwar indie International Records and the two Mozart quartets in 1951 for the Stuyvesants' own label, Philharmonia. Although the recordings are monophonic, they do not sound antique and are full-ranging, if a little dry and limited in some respects. This should prove excellent for a quiet evening at home, reading, or reflection. BridgeRecords.com.

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