Montreal String Quartet

Montreal String Quartet. The name of three string quartets that existed in Montreal between 1925 and 1963.

The Montreal String Quartette (fl ca 1925-8) was composed of Florence Hood and Mary Izard, violins, Robert H. Bryson, viola, and Yvette Lamontagne, cello, succeeded by Jean Belland in 1928. Works by Mendelssohn and Schumann were among those performed in 1926 in Windsor Hall.

The Montreal String Quartet (1934-40)/Le Quatuor à cordes de Montréal (1934-40) consisted of Lucien Sicotte and Annette Lasalle-Leduc, violins, Lucien Robert, viola, and Roland Leduc, cello. It gave its first concert 24 Nov 1934 in Tudor Hall and was greeted by the critic Henri Letondal as a 'young and enthusiastic ensemble [which] made a most favourable impression.' The quartet performed frequently on CBC radio, at the Ladies' Morning Musical Club, and as the guest of several other concert-giving societies. Sicotte was absent in 1937 and the quartet reduced its activity that year to a single concert, but it performed as usual in 1938, its programs including the premiere of a string-quartet version of Champagne'sDanse villageoise. In April 1939, after a farewell concert, the quartet left for Europe for intensive training under André Tourret, subsidized by the Quebec government and the patron Jean-C. Lallemand. The quartet's stay in France was cut short by the declaration of war; after a hasty return to Canada the ensemble performed at the École supérieure de musique d'Outremont (École Vincent-d'Indy). Not long afterwards internal problems caused the group to disband.

The Montreal String Quartet (1955-63)/Le Quatuor à cordes de Montréal (1955-63) was composed of Hyman Bress and Mildred Goodman, violins, Otto Joachim, viola, and Walter Joachim, cello. Its first performance, 2 Mar 1955 at the Ermitage under the auspices of the CLComp, was devoted to works of Canadian composers: Vallerand, Papineau-Couture, Betts, Morel, Archer, Freedman, and Turner. Over the years the CBC IS and the CBC French and English networks often called upon the ensemble to perform or record Canadian works as well as the classical repertoire. It premiered Glenn Gould'sQuartet (1956), Otto Joachim's Quartet (1957), and Clermont Pépin'sQuartet No. 2 (1956) and Quartet No. 4 (1960). The ensemble frequently performed for the Pro Musica Society, the Ladies' Morning Musical Club, and the Montreal Festivals (1957, the Brahms Quintet with Glenn Gould, piano), and it also played in Toronto and other Canadian cities. In February 1958 it made its New York debut at the Carnegie Recital Hall; 'Characteristics of [the players'] interpretations were their good rhythmic sense and their obvious love for the music,' reported Musical America (Mar 1958). During the 1959-60 season the quartet presented two series of six concerts in the Ermitage sponsored by the Canada Council. For these concerts, in addition to works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, Bloch, and Bartók, the quartet performed music by Pépin, Joachim, Papineau-Couture, and Weinzweig. When it disbanded during the 1962-3 season the quartet was considered one of the finest in Canada.