The Art of the Violin – Berl Senofsky
- Volume 3 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major Op 61 (1806) [44:17] Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 63 (1935) [26:38]
Berl Senofsky (violin)
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Monteux; rec. live, Tanglewood, August 1958
American Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski, rec. live, Carnegie Hall, January
1966 (Prokofiev) CEMBAL
D’AMOUR CD126 [70:57]
take a moment to salute Cembal d’Amour in its invaluable
restoration work. Who else is going to devote time, patience
and excellence to the legacy of American violinist Berl Senofsky?
Take a look at the other two volumes in the series – volume
2 – and also seek out Bridge’s broadcast of Senofsky’s
Walton concerto with the composer conducting (see review)
to get a broader perspective on this significant talent.
You can also find some biographical details there as well,
if his is just a name.
volume three we have a brace of heavyweight concertos and
accompanists. In the Beethoven Senofsky was joined, at Tanglewood
in August 1958, by Boston’s finest directed by Pierre Monteux.
In the audience was Fritz Kreisler whose cadenzas Senofsky
performed. From Senofsky’s contribution to a Kreisler edition
of The Strad in 1987 we can also learn that the two men went
walking together in Stockbridge in the Berkshires; Kreisler’s
favourite drink – and this may surprise you – was a chocolate
plays the Beethoven with a very sweet tone. His playing is
lyric without becoming cloying, and his vibrato is characteristically
fast. His playing was never motoric and one should not expect
it here; in fact it’s relatively expansive. As he is very
much under the microphone there are times when the orchestral
lower strings and winds find their statements and counter-statements
are over-subdued in the balance. There is rapturous applause
after the first movement finishes though, for my tastes,
earlier on he can take an elastic approach to tempo modifications.
The slow movement is unusually sentimental tonally, though
Senofsky’s trills are tightly electric and there’s plenty
of lyric intensity in the playing. And the finale is quite
relaxed, engaging if not ultimately necessary fully effective.
It’s in any case a warmly characterised reading.
the Prokofiev he was joined by the American Symphony Orchestra
and Leopold Stokowski in a performance given at Carnegie
Hall in January 1966. The acoustic here is a touch chilly
but the work rather suits Senofsky’s tight, fast vibrato
and his sense of nervous energy. In the higher positions,
I think it’s fair to admit, he can sound tonally rather unrelieved
but he brings a sure sense of architecture to bear. He takes
an altogether more Oistrakh than Heifetz tempo. I like the
slow movement’s central contrasts and the warmly expressive
timbral qualities as well as the incisive tensile finale – in
no small measure aided by Stokowski. I listened several times
to the applause at the end but it sounds rather unnatural
- as if at some point a big raucous applause track had been
edited over the beginnings of respectful clapping.
admirers have more to detain them here. Their hero is in
the highest company in these two works; he plays with enviable
assurance throughout and if, in the final resort, one can
detect why he never quite made it to the upper echelons one
can still admire the very real gifts he possessed, ones that
are being so valuably explored in this ever-engrossing series
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