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André Cluytens – Rarities
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major BWV 1042 [20:21]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op.63 (1934-35) [24:28]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (1850) [22:28]
Johanna Martzy (violin)/New York Philharmonic Orchestra/André Cluytens
rec. live, New York, 10 November 1957
Michael Rabin (violin)/Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra/André Cluytens,
rec. live, Cologne, 28 January 1957
Maurice Gendron (cello)/Orchestra National de la RTF/André Cluytens
rec. live, Paris, 1 January 1952
ARCHIPEL ARPCD 0298 [67:21]




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 to hear.

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.

Jonathan Woolf



 


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