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Yehudi Menuhin – Great Violinists
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Sonata No.7 in C minor Op.30 No.2
Violin Sonata No.9 in A Kreutzer Op.47
Rondo in G WoO 41
Franz SCHUBERT (1798-1828)

Rondo in B minor
Yehudi Menuhin (violin)
Hephzibah Menuhin (piano)
Recorded in London, 1934-38
NAXOS 8.110775 [78.14]

Recordings of the Menuhin siblings are coming thick and fast, so fast that not even this reviewer can quite keep up with them. This is my second encounter with Ward Marston’s transfers of the C minor and Kreutzer sonatas on this site. He’s previously produced a double CD set for Biddulph which includes them, as well as a Bach Sonata and two Brahms – the first and third. For a précis of my reactions to these youthful, if decidedly robust and occasionally superficial Beethoven traversals, you should read my comments there. The Schubert sports some ripely expressive and succulent tone from Yehudi – his portamenti are daringly constant and the prayerful colours he conjures are warmed by a rapid vibrato with a bewitching palette. Hephzibah proves once again a young musician of imagination and temperament – as well as firm technical address.

Now to the question of transfers. An A/B comparison shows that Marston seems to have employed the same master he used for the Biddulph. There was a fractional dropout in the Biddulph Kreutzer that is not reproduced in this Naxos. The ticks and pops there are minimalised here. The main difference however is that there is a greater forward presence in the Naxos and that the surface crackle has been better managed here. There is still a relatively high level of shellac noise but it’s well integrated and not obtrusive and the violin emerges with commendable clarity. Of course one needs to be guided by the repertoire but point-by-point comparison of the two Beethovens favours the Naxos.

Jonathan Woolf


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