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David Nadien – The Memorable 1973 Town Hall Recital
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Fugue arranged by Fritz Kreisler [3:23]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
No. 1 in D major Op. 12/1 (1797-98) [18:51]
Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881)
Violin Concerto No.5 in A minor Op.37 (1858) [15:15]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 – Chaconne (c.1720) [13:31]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasia in C major Op.131 arranged by Fritz Kreisler [13:13]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Scherzo Tarantelle: Op. 16 (1855) [4:17]
Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768)
Largo [3:27]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Schön Rosmarin [1:58]
David Nadien (violin)
Samuel Sanders (piano)
rec. Town Hall, NYC, 17 January 1973
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD140 [74:02]


Experience Classicsonline

Cembal d’Amour’s dedication to David Nadien is one of the more heartening features of the scene at the moment. It goes hand in glove with their restoration of Mindru Katz’s commercial recordings; both marques have also given us live performances to give even greater depth and breadth to our appreciation of their very singular talents. Katz, alas, died young but Nadien is still very much with us – witty, wry, and discreet.

My last encounter with Nadien was on a CD and DVD release (see review) in which you will find links to my other reviews of this elite artist’s Cembal d’Amour discs. They’re all well worth seeking out. Those in the know will be familiar with Nadien’s resumé but for those who have not encountered him a few words will suffice. Nadien was born in New York in 1928 and studied with Adolpho Betti, celebrated first violinist of the Flonzaley Quartet, and later with the pedagogue Ivan Galamian. Principally a recitalist he did also appear as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, of which orchestra he was leader from 1966 to 1970. He has been a distinguished teacher and coach and also had a substantial commercial career in the studios of New York, appearing with other stellar first-call session men such as violinists Harry Lookofsky and Charles Libove as well as the late cellist Alan Schulman (broadminded listeners will find Nadien on many an unlikely disc and he was part of the string section on Spyro Gyra’s jazz-fusion albums, for example).

This latest disc contains seventy four minutes of a New York Town Hall recital given in January 1973. The pianist is Samuel Sanders. Things get underway with the cultured nobility of the Tartini-Kreisler Fugue, in the course of which Sanders proves no shrinking violet. This is followed by Beethoven’s Op.12 No.1 sonata which is played with Nadien’s characteristic sweetness and vibrancy of tone and with considerable panache into the bargain. Occasionally one might cavil at the intensity of his vibrato – a very characteristic part of the Nadien tonal arsenal is the fast vibrato – but it only really obtrudes in the Tema. In all this is a vital, vibrant performance, Sanders powering away, drama and contrast held in good balance.

It’s not often these days that players present a piano reduced concerto. But in 1973 it was still – just – being done often enough for it to be unexceptionable. Nadien chooses Vieuxtemps’s A minor as his vehicle, the one with the blink-and-you-miss-it seventy five second finale. We receive a full complement of virtuosity and élan in this performance, along with a generosity of lyric expression. Nadien’s bowing is terrific, his ethos broadly, though not slavishly, Heifetzian. The performance elicits excited applause. There are two big works yet to come. Schumann’s Fantasia in C major in its Kreisler garb is a big work, not easy to convey violinistically, but here we have a kind of distillation of Nadien’s art in a performance that richly conveys vocalised lyricism in a way that so few contemporary players could possibly emulate. The Chaconne is further evidence of his formidable musicianship - a strong, sinewy, essentially extrovert performance. 

There are three encores. First we have a dashing Wieniawski Scherzo tarantelle, dispatched with cavalier aplomb, a John Barrymore insouciance to the fore. Next the Veracini Largo, where his tight vibrato just misses the kind of effusive warmth that, say, Thibuad brought to it. And then Schön Rosmarin to end things delightfully.

Another warmly welcomed disc from this source. Surely there must be many more Nadien tapes awaiting release; let’s hope so.

Jonathan Woolf 



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