Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.4 in D, K218 (1775) [23:43]
Sonata for Piano and Violin in F, K.376 (1781) [16:19]
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op. 30/3 (1803) [17:11]
Johanna Martzy (violin): Jean Antonietti (piano)
Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR250 [57:16]
Admirers of Johanna Martzy will known that Coup d’archet, a boutique label largely devoted to perpetuating her recordings in lavish editions, has released a swathe of them on 180 gram LPs. If your income is sufficient to meet the requested price, and if they haven’t already sold out (a number have) then you will be the proud possessor of some truly marvellous performances. Her performing career was regrettably truncated. First Walter Legge lost interest in her — either because he had bigger fish on his books or because she rejected his amatory approaches, as had Kathleen Ferrier before her. Whatever the reason, her career which had begun so promisingly, rather trailed off and she was soon to succumb to cancer in her 50s.
What remains is something special. Her Mozart with Jochum was recorded in 1952 and preserves a reading of eager projection. Her playing is well proportioned, the first movement cadenza enjoyed with relish. There is nobility and pathos in the second movement where she abjures opportunities to deepen her vibrato and thicken her tone, ŕ la Russe, instead concentrating on congruent expressive responses — no over emoting on the lower strings, therefore. The finale is sensibly phrasing and the rapport with Jochum is excellent throughout, both musicians finding some operatic wit and aerial grace to enliven this Rondo.
There then follow, from the same year, two sonatas with her regular sonata partner, Jean Antonietti. The first is more Mozart, his G major, K376, Once again her Mozartian credentials are outstanding: rhythmically buoyant, with her tone centring more in the Andante and just the right sense of grazioso in the finale. I’d have preferred brighter piano tone, but otherwise things are fine. The Beethoven Sonata is Op.30 No.3. Her trills are urgent, and the piano sounds better. Tonally things are beyond reproach and this is another excellent reading, with especially delightful exchanges in the Minuet. The only real criticism concerns the finale, which could be lighter on its feet.
There has been a Japanese TOCE CD set devoted to Martzy but otherwise we are in a difficult position as regards her studio recordings and indeed those live broadcasts that have emerged. Every scrap of Martzy is valuable, and I do hope that, in addition to Coup d’archet’s work — a biography has long been promised, as well — and that of Testament and Doremi, the full body of her recorded legacy will be made available to those who admire great violin playing. This finely transferred Forgotten Records disc is an excellent step in that direction — without notes, but displaying discrimination and astute judgement in its selection of repertoire.
Every scrap of Martzy is valuable.