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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D major Op.77 (1879) [38.12]
Ossy Renardy (violin)
Concertgebouw Orchestra/Charles Munch
Recorded 1948

This Brahms Violin Concerto has already appeared nicely transferred on Dutton and rather less well on Tahra. It is played by the short-lived Viennese fiddler Ossy Renardy (born plain Oscar Reiss in 1920). This is a recording that many admire. There’s certainly a mix of measured control and strong accelerandi, the lyrical and the passionate, that intrigues. The second movement is sweetly lyric though I have to say I find Renardy’s playing a little glutinous sometimes and claustrophobic; and, to be schoolmasterly, those repetitious slides in the finale simply won’t do – all too unvaried. The demerits of the performance are ones of youthful monochromaticism – there just aren’t enough tone colours for this of all works.

Given the choice of this and the Dutton and Tahra transfers how do things stack up? There’s some 78 hum on the Tahra and the strings do sound a bit starved high up – a Decca tendency and one that Pristine Audio and Dutton have dealt with much better. Some of the side changes are noticeable as well in the Tahra, with subtle acoustic shifts that are momentarily off-putting. Pristine Audio has used more noise reduction than Tahra and it sounds correspondingly rather more veiled and less open at the top. The newer transfer is therefore darker, and the lower brass occasionally sound a touch congested. You can hear some surface noise on Pristine Audio but only at a very high level, and in fact it sounds negligible. In the finale the new transfer copes with Decca shrillness as well as does Dutton. As for a choice, the Tahra is part of a two-disc set devoted to Charles Munch and the Dutton is coupled with Furtwängler’s problematic recording of Brahms’ Second Symphony with the LPO – which may affect things. Pristine Audio offers just the Concerto

This new transfer from Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio is one of an increasing number of "concerto singles" put out by their company. Follow the link at the top of this review for further information as to availability, pricing and the kind of repertoire of historic – and much other – material they cover. As a taster they have produced new transfers of Kulenkampff’s Schumann, Heifetz’s Tchaikovsky, Ricci’s Beethoven and plenty of orchestral music besides.

Jonathan Woolf



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