Schubert sonatas

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Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (1879) [33:39]
Edith Peinemann (violin)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Peter Maag
Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22 (1875) [27:09]
English Chamber Orchestra/Rafael Kubelik
rec. July 1965, Rudolfinum, Prague (Concerto); May 1969, Brent Town Hall, Wembley, London (Serenade). ADD


As far as I can see this makes the first revival on CD of these two LP era recordings.

Edith Peinemann was born in Mainz in 1937 but now lives and works in Frankfurt, where she has been professor of violin at the University of Frankfurt Hochschule since 1976. From an early age she studied with her father Robert Peinemann, later with Heinz Stanske and Max Rostal. She has performed with many conductors including Münch, Solti, Karajan, Szell, Steinberg, Barbirolli, Sargent, Kubelik and Ozawa. Her orchestral debut took place at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1965, where she played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. This performance was almost immediately followed by a Bartók 2nd Concerto with the New York Philharmonic under William Steinberg. She has been honoured with the “Plaquette Eugène Ysaye 1858-1958”. She is in good company for the only other recipients before her were Oistrakh, Kogan and Grumiaux. She plays a Guarneri del Gesù violin (1732).

The concerto dates from between the Fifth and Sixth symphonies and is the work of a composer in his late thirties. Peinemann’s version of the Dvořák Violin Concerto has poetry and splendidly powerful attack without being as moving and tender as it might have been. There are moments in the first movement where her reading seems effortful; elsewhere she is poetic. The orchestral part is ripely put across but with some hardness in the now forty year old recording. This is not a first recommendation version but it’s a good reading all the same and enhanced by the role of the Czech Phil. Ideally I would however opt for Suk on Supraphon (review1; review2) or Accardo on a now deleted UK Eloquence disc (review).

Better still is the Kubelik Serenade which is springy, heart-warming, touching and not afraid to be a touch sentimental as in the Larghetto which yearns towards Tchaikovsky’s own Serenade for Strings. There is some hardness in the violin tone but I only noticed this in the Scherzo. The original DGG recording team have faithfully captured the muscularity of the ECO bass and this pays dividends in the tumbling and galloping excitement of the Finale.

Two healthy revivals from a neglected corner of the DG archive. Credit to Cyrus Meher-Homji for singling these out. They will be greeted by old friends from LP days and will make new friends amongst the CD generation.

Rob Barnett


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