Sonata no.2 for Violin and Piano op.31 (1932) [20:31]
Frederick Grinke (violin); Edmund Rubbra (piano)
rec. 4 May 1954, Decca’s West Hampstead Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, NW6
Sonatina for Violin and Piano (1942) [12:22]
Frederick Grinke (violin); Lennox Berkeley (piano)
Theme and Variations for Solo Violin (1950) [8:04]
Frederick Grinke (violin)
rec. 11 May 1954, Decca’s West Hampstead Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, NW6
Prologue, Variations and Finale for Violin and Piano op.12 (1937) [25:24]
Max Rostal (violin); Franz Reizenstein (piano)
rec. 12 March 1945 at Decca’s West Hampstead Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, NW6
Three Pieces for Violin & Piano op.7 no.1 (1936) [arr. Reizenstein, from Piano Suite op.6] [4:24]
Max Rostal (violin); Franz Reizenstein (piano)
rec. 30 July 1945, Decca’s West Hampstead Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, NW6
Remastered from the original session tapes [Rubbra & Berkeley] and 78-rpm shellac discs [Reizenstein] by Michael J. Dutton.

The common thread here is that the composer is at the piano in each of these five recordings.

These historic items were made in 1945 and 1954. They are the latest in a steady Dutton production of such reissues from seemingly immaculate sources. Michael J Dutton appears to be more than persona grata with Decca and others. Rather a pity then that he may not be able to magic up the original masters for Argo's very rare orchestral Balfour Gardiner mono LP - the one conducted by Richard Austin.

Dutton's technical flair is renowned. It is fully engaged in the bejewelled lyricism of the Rubbra Violin Sonata as played by Grinke. The flow of melody cannot be brooked or stemmed ... and who would want to. This is a wonderful document and a most realistic sounding piece of vintage work. Would that Decca had recorded Bax as pianist in his Piano Quintet. The Rubbra is at that level of excellence and it sounds miraculously clean and clear.

We leave Rubbra for Lennox Berkeley again with Grinke now in the Violin Sonatina. Here the style is more elusive - less ecstatically lyrical but certainly not untuneful. It's just that the composer is more classically reserved and athletically inclined though the delicately dancing finale softens and relaxes with folksy charm. Grinke is alone at the helm for the Theme and Variations for solo violin. This is most delightfully spun with plenty of character.

The two Reizenstein pieces date from 1936-37. They leave Grinke behind and bring us to Max Rostal (celebrated on a Symposium two CD set). These two works are a little more angular than the Berkeley but they also have a tender reflective vein alongside the caustic songfulness. Is it too much to hope that the Reizenstein family might have preserved recordings, in good enough heart, of the composer in his two piano concertos and also in broadcasts of his two choral-orchestral Three Choirs pieces Voices of the Night and Genesis.

Rob Barnett

Dutton's technical flair and artistic acumen is renowned and is fully engaged here.