up its perceptive retrieval of hard-to-trace Francescatti-Casadesus
recordings. The two Beethoven sonatas are not to be confused
with the slightly later stereo remakes, and they complete
the mono recordings that the two Frenchmen left behind –
they never recorded the cycle in mono though they did in
stereo (the mono Nos 7, 8 and 9 are on Biddulph 80210).
that the Mozart sonata was never released commercially by
American Columbia at the time – which is true – but I was
under the impression that the same was the case with the
Bach. If so the acoustic may account for a reluctance to
issue it, as it’s rather swimmy and it catches a rather
on/off tone from the violinist. This is grand, old school
Bach playing, full of expression in slow movements and exceptionally
clean technically. Francescatti’s at his most winning in
the intensity of the third movement Andante.
distinction of his Concerto recordings Francescatti only
recorded one Mozart sonata with Casadesus. It’s rather dullishly
recorded and airless which might be a contributing facture
to its having been held back. Maybe someone also took a
good long listen to the leaden introduction to the slow
movement – a terrible miscalculation for so authoritative
a Mozartian pairing - and agreed that whilst the subsequent
cantabile playing is august it doesn’t compensate for the
On balance however
it’s the two Beethoven sonatas in which we find the best
playing. Try the buoyancy of the opening of the E flat sonata
and the increasingly ardent expression of its Adagio. Or
listen to the splendid ensemble in the A minor with its
difficult rhythmic machinations in the central movement.
Or indeed the violinist’s coiled tone in the outer movements,
so impressively tensile yet without any harshness.
I once swore
to ram this message home whenever Biddulph produced their
cavalierly unhelpful booklets devoid of all matrix and release
details – but then lost heart. Well, there’s no excuse for
it here; Francescatti and Casadesus re-recorded the Beethoven
sonatas in stereo as we know but the browser really doesn’t
want to trawl through the notes to find out which is mono
and which stereo. Does Biddulph think it sexy to dispense
with all this anoraky old stuff – is that it? I can’t believe
Eric Wen really thinks so.