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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Overture: Egmont, Op. 84 (1809) Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (1806)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108* (1888)
Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra/Istvan Kertész
Carl Seeman* (piano)
rec. 13 March 1964, Royal Festival Hall (Beethoven), 5 September 1956, Usher Hall, Edinburgh (Brahms)
BBC LEGENDS BBCL 4217-2 [75:59] 


Wolfgang Schneiderhan (1915-2002) was one of the finest violinists of his generation. He made a successful solo career founded upon the central classics of the concerto and solo repertory. This new compilation therefore captures him on his home territory; and most rewarding it is too. 

To begin with, the recorded sound is thoroughly acceptable in the case of the Brahms sonata, and much better than that in the case of the Beethoven concerto and its attendant overture. Carl Seeman was a sensitive pianist, perfectly suited to the role of duo partner, and the judgements of tempo and balance are well made in this Brahms performance, recorded live at the 1956 Edinburgh Festival. It says much for the stature of these artists that they could command a platform in a major concert venue, usually the preserve of orchestral rather than chamber music. While the sound has little bloom, it is admirable clear and all the details can be heard. What is more, the performance offers many insights, not least in the eloquent violin lines of the second movement Adagio. 

Istvan Kertész developed a highly successful relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra, and their full-toned performance of the Egmont Overture has excellent playing and a recorded sound that has a marvellously full body. This and the attendant concerto recording feature some of the best sound to be encountered in this important BBC Legends series. All credit to the original recording engineers, as to Tony Faulkner’s remastering. It seems scarcely credible that the performances took place 43 years ago. 

The performances themselves are impressive too. While that of the Egmont Overture does not really catch fire until the coda, known as the ‘Symphony of Victory’, the quality of the playing and the orchestral sound provide ample compensation. But for a really powerful and electric Egmont Overture try George Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic, coupled with the complete incidental music (Decca 425 972-2). 

Schneiderhan was a celebrated exponent of the Beethoven concerto and his Deutsche Grammophon recording (447 403) with Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic has generally been highly regarded. At the Festival Hall in 1964 he again preferred Beethoven’s cadenza with timpani, arranged by the composer from his piano arrangement of the original concerto. He plays throughout with secure and full intonation, aided by a sympathetically warm acoustic, which was well captured by the original recording. Perhaps the microphone placement favours the soloist in the perspective, but that is hardly unusual. Once established the tempi always feel just right in every movement. 

As with the other issues in this series, there is no information about the music, but a full and well researched accompanying note about the artist in focus. This admirable example is by Tully Potter. Perhaps this is selling the project short, since Schneiderhan and Kertész give us an interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto that can stand alongside the best. 

Terry Barfoot 



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