One conductor and three
soloists. The conductor is André
Cluytens who leads three orchestras,
one German, one French and one American.
The New York and Cologne performances
were given in 1957 and the Paris in
1952 and the three soloists are elite
members of the string fraternity.
Martzy made a famous
set of the Sonatas and Partitas but
she never recorded the Concertos which
makes the survival of this performance
all the more valuable. The sound is
slightly papery but there’s reasonable
body to the New York strings. This is
big band but not insensitive Bach playing.
Martzy plays with purity and a tightly
focused tone and she clothes the slow
movement with refined and generously
expressive phrasing, though the audience
get a touch restive here. The finale
is on the staid side.
Similarly Rabin never
recorded the G minor Prokofiev concerto.
In fact the only commercial Prokofiev
he left behind was the Heifetz-arranged
March from the Love for Three Oranges.
I would hesitate to call this a
Heifetz-cloned performance but there
are indelible signs that the young Rabin
had taken - but had yet fully to absorb
-Heifetz’s glamorous traits in this
work. The Heifetz slides are apparent,
as is the older man’s razory intensity.
Rather surprisingly Rabin begins the
slow movement at a Heifetz tempo but
then he and Cluytens collude in slowing
things quite significantly. Here Rabin
is at his most insistently inflective,
garnishing the line with a veritable
arsenal of expressive devices; all brilliantly
executed if perhaps rather exhausting
Of the three players
only Gendron left behind a commercial
trace of his performance of one of these
works - his Philips recording of the
Schumann with the VSO and von Dohnányi
is quite well known. His playing with
Cluytens is admirably fluent, fluid
and elegant in the best French style.
His intonation is also about as good
as one finds and his musical instincts
are never self-serving. Gendron was
one of the most natural of cellists
and one of the most sheerly musical
and this is yet more evidence of it.
Given the discographic
novelty here this will be a most attractive
proposition to specialists. You will
of course have to forego notes as there
are none, as is usual from this source.
On this occasion though I must say that
rarity outshines parsimony.