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Michael Rabin Collection Volume 1
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No.8 Op.30 No.3 (1801-02)† [17.24]
Gabriel FAUR… (1845-1924)
Violin Sonata No.1 Op.13 (1875-77) [22.51]
NiccolÚ PAGANINI (1784-1840)
Caprice Op.1 No.17 (c.1819) [3.16]
Michael Rabin (violin)
Lothar Broddack (piano)
Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra/Donald Voorhees
Recorded by RIAS, Berlin, October 1961 and 1962 (sonatas), New York, August 1950 (Paganini)
DOREMI DHR 7715 [43.29]

 

These are significant additions to the discography of the sadly short-lived Rabin, better known for his virtuoso fireworks in Paganini and the flashier repertoire in the book. In fact he had long been an adherent of the Faurť sonata, a piece heíd been performing since his teens, and with which he was certainly no stranger when he came to broadcast it in Berlin in 1961 by the time he was twenty-five. His accompanist here, as in the 1962 Beethoven G major, was Lothar Broddack, a very diligent though not especially inspiring musician from the sound of things.

The Faurť doesnít show Rabin in quite such scintillating form, tonally and expressively, as one can hear elsewhere. His tone isnít hard-pressed, itís true, but he certainly doesnít go in for the kind of battery of inflections that his hero Heifetz espoused in this work when he recorded it in the 1930s (on Biddulph). Similarly he doesnít modify and mould the lyric line with as much sensitivity as Grumiaux (try the Crossley recording which I admire most of the violinistís traversals of it). Though he does lavish some well-calibrated bigger tone on the second subject quite a bit of his passagework generally is very straightforward and rather plain. With a rather undifferentiated slow movement, more than a bit hard toned as well, we have a few intonational blips - though he does bring out some finger position changes that impart vibrancy and intensity to some of the playing. Oddly for such a wonderful player his scherzo sounds a touch rushed in places, even though itís the same tempo that Grumiaux and Crossley take; the distinguishing feature is that the Belgianís articulation is the finer. The piano action is rather nosily evident in the finale where chewy playing from Rabin doesnít compensate for some unrelaxed phrasing.

The Beethoven receives in many ways a far more unproblematic interpretation though thereís not a great deal in it that rivets attention, even from a player of Rabinís class. In terms of stylistic matters it receives an acceptable traversal though the central movement is certainly not slow Ė more a Rosand tempo than a Perlman. But whilst the finale is quite buoyant one is left with a feeling that nothing especially distinctive has been said. The fill-up is in the context a pleasant anomaly; a Bell Telephone Hour three-minute snippet of an orchestrally accompanied Paganini Caprice from 1950, Rabinís youth. Despite the mushy recording and the syrupy accompaniment we can still hear Rabinís dazzling affinity for the repertoire.

I began by saying that this issue is valuable for the preserved radio recordings because they represent items otherwise absent from Rabinís meagre discography. Iíll reinforce that even though the performances are in some ways disappointing. Whatís not at stake is the fine work Doremi have demonstrated in making these performances widely available for the first time.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 

 

 

 


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