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Great Violinists - Albert Sammons (1886-1957) Historical Recordings 1926-1935
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Sinfonia Concertante in Eb for Violin and Viola, K 364 (1779) [29.57]
London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty
Lionel Tertis, viola (1st movement cadenza by Tertis)
Tivadar NACHEZ (1859 - 1930)

Passacaglia on a Theme of Sammartini (1900s) [7.37] (accompanist unknown)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)

Rosamunde: Entr’acte (1823) [2.21] (With Gerald Moore, piano)
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841 - 1904)

Humoresque, Op 101 #7 (1894) (arr. Rehfeld) [3.05] (With Gerald Moore, piano)
Jules MASSENET (1842 - 1912)

Thaïs: Méditation (1893) [3.57] (With Gerald Moore, piano)

Londonderry Air [2.45] (accompanist unknown)

Bourée (1918) [3.38] (accompanist unknown)
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857 - 1934)

Violin Sonata in e, Op 82 (1918) [14.41] (with William Murdoch, piano)
Albert Sammons, violin
Notes in English
Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110957 [76.41]

Having been "brought up" on Sammons and Tertis by my 78 rpm record collector friends, this disk comes as a very welcome addition to the catalogue. The biggest surprise will be Tertis’s first movement duo cadenza to the Mozart — interesting, yes, but you’ll be happy to go back to Mozart’s own for every day. The lush portamento sound of both soloists and orchestra is to be expected and in my opinion a little of that today would do no harm. Apart from these novelties, we have just a very fine, good-sounding, vital, committed, performance of this music, one well worth rescuing from the vaults. The sound is sweet, undistorted, close-up, clear and realistic with plenty of bite in the solo strings. Obert-Thorn has had success in reducing pitch variations in the original source materials.

It had to be some happy accident of Sammons’ tone matching exactly the characteristics of the microphones of that day that makes his recordings sound so good today. His famous 1932 recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto sounds better than many 1950s LPs. These encore recordings of varying ages all sound remarkably new and are very enjoyable to listen to, in contrast to some archival issues. However they are not remarkable musically. Sammons’ virtues lay in his intelligent musicianship, drama, and sculptured long phrases, not in his virtuosity or flash. Hence, you will surely find another version you prefer of all the violin and piano ‘chestnuts’ recorded here.

Sammons’ own Bourée is the most interesting in the list, but it’s not a particularly noble or beautiful work. In the Sammartini/Nachez Passacaglia Sammons’ tone is not at its best. The lyrical phrases are lovely, and the work is rare, so you will be happy to have this version, but his scrapy triple stopping does not dazzle or amaze. His Meditation and Londonderry Air are not sticky-sweet, and if they aren’t, why play them at all? We want to hear Sammons play these things out of affection and admiration for his other recordings, and that’s a good reason.

His "other great Elgar recording" of the Violin Sonata in e, of which Sammons and Murdoch early became the definitive interpreters, sounds every bit as good and up-to-date as the Concerto recording. This is certainly the only version of this lovely work you will ever ‘need’ to own.

Paul Shoemaker

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