> Lalo Symphonie espagnole etc Grumieux [JW]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Edouard LALO (1823-1892)
Symphonie espagnole

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Introduction and rondo capriccioso
Havanaise

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)

Poème

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Tzigane

Arthur Grumiaux, violin
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux
Manuel Rosenthal
Recorded Paris 1963 and 1966
ELOQUENCE PHILIPS 462 579-2 [77.53]

Grumiaux was one of the great masters. Patrician inheritor and upholder of the Franco-Belgian school his rise to international eminence was delayed – by the War, by cancelled tours – but his eminence was indisputable. He was a musician of wide gifts and affiliations and a fine pianist – he even recorded the Brahms Second Violin Sonata and Mozart K481 playing both violin and piano parts – and as befits a student of Alfred Dubois he was a surpassingly stylish classical player. He had a fast vibrato but unlike, say, Tossy Spivakovsky or Ruggiero Ricci it was of subtle evenness of production, never oscillatory or damagingly over vibrated.

This Eloquence reissue of LP material from the early to mid sixties returns to the catalogue some supremely elegant and arresting playing, splendidly conducted by the doyen of French conductors, Manuel Rosenthal still alive, I believe, at ninety-seven. Grumiaux’s Lalo is technically adroit, tonally expressive and flexible. The Intermezzo benefits from his excellently equalized lower string work whilst the andante is resonantly moving, with great purity of tonal production without ever breaching architectural or expressive proprieties. Grumiaux may not smoulder his way through the concerto but his is a performance that enshrines qualities far removed from mere surface affiliations. The Introduction and rondo capriccioso, one of Saint-Saëns’ most famous violinistic showpieces, is paced with unusual deliberation before the rondo gathers pace in a scintillatingly rapid traversal – with precise articulation, and the almost imperceptible employment of gradations and increments of tonal resources. The Havanaise is suitably affectionate though the allegro passage is again of motoric intensity. Chausson’s Poème is all hot-house reverie – an introduction with withdrawn tone, reflective and not at all the theatrico-dramatic melodrama that other, perhaps less scrupulous more combustible violinists, make of it. This is more an interior monologue than a declamation, more a reflection than an assertion. In Tzigane one might think that Grumiaux is not the man to dig into the strings and declaim eruptively. Whilst it’s true that he’s never the rhetorician that other more powerful personalities can be this is still a provocatively persuasive account – ironically I found his abandonment rather more satisfying than his restraint.

As a conspectus of the powerhouse French repertoire Grumiaux shows that, on his own terms, he is very much the equal of his peers. His elevated art is well served by this excellent disc.

Jonathan Woolf


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