Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



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William Primrose (viola)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Viola Sonata No.1 in F minor Op.120 No.1 (1894)
Viola Sonata No.2 in E flat major Op.120 No.2 (1894)
Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960)

Elegy, Waltz and Toccata (1945)
Roy HARRIS (1898-1979)

Soliloquy and Dance (1938)
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)

Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani
William Primrose (viola) with
William Kapell (piano) Sonata No.1
Gerald Moore (piano) Sonata No.2
Vladimir Sokoloff (piano) in the Arthur Benjamin
Johanna Harris (piano) in the Roy Harris
Franz Rupp (piano) in the Fritz Kreisler
Recorded 1937-46
PEARL GEMM CD 9253 [73.04]

Well transferred and annotated this is a welcome addition to the current Primrose discography. It collates the two canonical Brahms Sonatas, in the earliest of his traversals (the Firkušny LP recordings should certainly be restored to the catalogue however, so august is the music making, even if one prefers the younger Primrose at many points). It complements these with two works dedicated to the Glaswegian by representative Australian and American composers and adds a substantial piece by Kreisler. It was the composer-violinist who had told his colleague Warwick Evans, cellist of the august London String Quartet, that if he ever heard Kreisler playing on the radio he’s know the violinist’s days were over (Kreisler, like Rachmaninov had for years refused to play for the radio). To Evans’ amazement one day he heard what he thought was Kreisler – only to find out subsequently that it was actually Primrose, then, in the later 1920s making his way as a violinist of distinction. Fitting, then, to end with the Kreisler.

His partners are William Kapell in the F minor, with Primrose’s phrasing in the slow movement of wonderful simplicity and refinement, and redoubtable Gerald Moore in the Second, in E flat major, a performance that imbues the work with profoundly reflective intimacy. The Benjamin triptych is notable for the surety of understanding between violist and Vladimir Sokoloff, his most able pianist, and the depth of rich and floated tone Primrose elicits in the opening Elegy. His handling of the quasi-cadential passages is tremendously impressive in its command; pizzicati spot on and in the Toccata, the rhythmic nuances are conveyed with dazzling precision. In Roy Harris’s Soliloquy and Dance he has the advantage of the composer’s wife as collaborator and she proves a staunch and convincing exponent of her husband’s music. One can but admire their handling of the Soliloquy’s movement from pensive withdrawal to powerful and exultant self-assertion – and the way these oppositional moods are coalesced. Similarly they convey the wind gusts and joie de vivre stomp of the Dance with acid drive. In the Kreisler his intonation slips a couple of times and there’s one technical mini-buckle in the Praeludium section but the Allegro is exceptionally brilliant and clear – if not quite as magnetically powerful as his great predecessor Lionel Tertis’ recording.

This is a splendid conspectus of mid-period Primrose in repertoire of which he was a masterful interpreter. Let’s have the Firkušny back by all means but Primrose’s many admirers will want this excellent all round disc, notable for quality of music making and of recorded sound.

Jonathan Woolf

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