MOZART: Sinfonia concertante in E F lat, K. 364 (with Lionel Tertis, violist/London Philharmonic Orch/Hamilton Harty, cond.- rec. April 30, 1933). ELGAR: Violin Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82 (with William Murdoch, pianist - rec. Feb. 2, 1935). NACHEZ: Passacaglia on a Theme of Sammartini. SAMMONS: BourrČe. TRADITIONAL: Londonderry Air (with unidentified pianist - rec. Sept. 9, 1926). SCHUBERT: Entr'acte from Rosamunde. DVORˇK: Humoresque MASSENET: MČditation from ThaÔs (with Gerald Moore, pianist - rec. June 28, 1932 and Mar. 2, 1928).
NAXOS 8.110957 (B) (ADD) TT: 76:41
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Here we have four CDs of performances by major violinists of the past century.
Erica Morini (1904-1995) was one of the first woman violinists to gain international recognition, a solid musician with sterling technique and musical taste, although she did not achieve the fame of her best-known contemporaries, Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein to mention just two. For more about Morini and her 1945 recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto with Defauw and the Chicago Symphony, see REVIEW. Her recordings with Artur Rodzinski of the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos also is REVIEWED on this site. Morini's male colleagues respected her highly; Alan Evans' fascinating CD notes state that Heifetz studied with her to improve his staccato! Morini made successful debuts in 1916 with both the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras under Arthur Nikisch, and became a favorite soloist of Wilhelm Furtw”ngler and Bruno Walter. Her final appearance was in 1976 after which she became reclusive. During this period she was the victim of burglars who took her Stradivarius, scores, letters and photographs. This M&A CD contains music from happier days, offering her live performances with two distinguished conductors, the Tchaikovsky with Jascha Horenstein recorded in Paris in 1957, and the Brahms with George Szell and the New York Philharmonic recorded in Carnegie Hall in 1952. The fine reconstructions by Maggie Payne do what can be done with sources that had numerous technical glitches some of which could not be totally corrected. The Tchaikovsky broadcast miking produces a larger-than-life violin soloist, and there are several non-standard cuts in the score. For admirers of Erica Morini, this CD is essential.
Zino Francescatti (1902-1991) came from a family of violinists who started teaching him when he was five. Although his progress was swift, his father would not permit him to play publicly until he was twenty. Two years later he auditioned with Jacques Thibaud who was highly impressed. The young Francescatti accompanied Maurice Ravel and soprano Maggie Teyte on a concert tour of England, playing as well in the Straram Orchestra, a leading orchestra in Paris. He slowly but surely became built his career in Europe, and later in the United States where he quickly became a favorite soloist with American orchestras. He recorded profusely; one of his most famous was Paganini's Concerto No. 1 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Often on records he collaborated with his good friend, pianist Robert Casadesus. Many of his recordings are still available (see ARKIVMUSIC site for a complete listing). M&A's CD is particularly valuable as it contains two concertos Francescatti recorded that are not currently available, the Bruch Concerto No. 1 in a vivid performance with the NBC Symphony conducted by Frank Black from April 1945 (his commercial recording was with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Thomas Schippers), and Saint-SaÎns' Concerto No. 3 which is given a passionate reading recorded in France in 1951 with Charles Munch on the podium (Francescatti's commercial recording was with the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos). As usual with M&A, Maggi Payne's restorations from broadcast sources are fine. CD notes are a reprint of an informative article on Francescatti by Henry Roth originally published in Great Violinists in Performance, including comments on many of the violinist's recordings.
Sir Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), one of the major musicians and humanitarians of the20th Century, had a career filled with glorious achievements. This included a recording of Elgar's Violin Concerto in 1932 with the London Symphony conducted by the composer (he would record it again in the mid-'60s with Sir Adrian Boult and the New Philharmonia Orchestra). He made countless other recordings and concertized extensively. When Menuhin's technique was no longer infallible, he branched out into conducting and made a number of unmemorable recordings primarily with the Bath Festival and Menuhin Festival orchestras. Menuhin waited until 1947 before recording the Beethoven concerto, with Furtw”ngler conducting, and later made recordings with conductors Constantin Silvestri, Otto Klemperer, Kurt Masur—as well as a second with Furtw”ngler. In 1971 he made his last recording of the concerto, the one herewith issued, in which Menuhin is both soloist and conductor with the Menuhin Festival Orchestra. Menuhin refused to permit it to be released, and for good reason. The basically conductorless orchestra and soloist aren't always in sync, and the violinist's intonation often is suspect. The Romance was made as a filler for the projected LP release and also is here released for the first time. Tchaikovsky's Serenade was recorded in 1959 as a filler for a recording made at the same time of the composer's concerto which also "did not quite come off" as the CD booklet says, and probably will never be issued as Menuhin, for whatever reason, didn't record the cadenza. This CD is for Menuhin fans only.
Albert Sammons (1886-1957) is considered to be the finest British violinist to make recordings; his 1929 recording of Elgar's Violin Concerto with the New Queen's Hall Orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty (available on Naxos 8.110951) is of importance primarily as it was the first, made after numerous concert performances with the composer conducting. There are many other recordings of this work, notably by Menuhin, Heifetz and Perlman, that are superior interpretively and of course better recorded—although Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers of Sammons' work is exemplary. After Sammons auditioned for Sir Thomas Beecham in 1908 he was offered a position in the conductor's new orchestra, also forming a string quartet that gave world premieres including works of Delius and Bridge. Sammons' solo career flourished but his dislike of travel limited his activities to Europe. He edited and gave the premiere of the violin concerto by Delius, included on the Naxos CD of the Elgar. Sammons retired from the concert stage in 1948. This fine CD features the violinist's recording of Elgar's Violin Sonata, assisted by his accompanist William Murdoch, made Feb. 2, 1935. We also have Mozart's Sinfonia concertante recorded April 30, 1933 with the London Philharmonic directed by Harty, with another superb British string player, Lionel Tertis, as violist. The well-filled CD (76:41) also contains shorter works of Nachez, Schubert, Dvor·k, Massenet, the traditional Londonderry Air, and a charming short work by the violinist, Bourree.