Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64 (1844) [25:01]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Grand Duo for violin and piano D574 (1817) [17:55]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Violin Concerto No.3 Op.61 (1880) [24:32]
Havanaise in E Op.83 (1887) [8:20]
Louis Kaufman (violin)
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/Otto Ackermann (Mendelssohn) Maurits van der Berg (Saint-Saëns)
Pina Pozzi (piano)
rec. 1950s
It’s always rewarding to encounter Louis Kaufman’s 1950 recordings. These ones came out on Musical Masterpiece Society, and they were later reissued; I’ve got the Mendelssohn Concerto on LP, and the Saint-Saëns on a Pye Ember reissue. I’d not heard the Schubert before, though.
Kaufman’s Mendelssohn, with Otto Ackermann and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, is virile and ripe. His characteristic fast impulse vibrato is almost brazenly audible in the close-up recording, and the temperature is Romantic Plus throughout. There are some luscious Kreisleresque slides and so, too, the endemic warmth and communicative élan that Kaufman always generated. I don’t know a single recording of his where his commitment flagged. The fervid tone that illuminates the slow movement is part of his expressive arsenal though it does come at the cost of some phrasal relaxation. The finale is dancing, spry, and not exaggeratedly fast.
The other Concerto is Saint-Saëns’ Third, directed this time by Maurits van der Berg. Ackermann is the better known conductor. Van der Berg had been a violinist. His pre-war 78 recordings are worth a listen and show a polished but not especially distinctive performer. He offers decent support to Kaufman, though balance isn’t perfect, something I will put down to microphone placement rather than the conductor. Again this is the kind of work Kaufman took to and he plays with richness and quick slides. It’s a pity orchestral tuttis don’t register as powerfully as they should, but one can hear a swirly echo, so maybe that had something to do with it. He plays the Havanaise dashingly.
Schubert’s Duo for violin and piano, also known as a Sonata these days, bisects the concertos. He recorded it with Pina Pozzi, and is, if anything, just too succulent here, with a battery of portamenti and a quivering romanticism - playful and prayerful alike - that tends to over-part the music. Lovely (and luscious) to hear, though.
The list of newly-available Kaufman discs extends still further with this faithful transfer.
Jonathan Woolf 

The list of newly-available Kaufman discs extends still further with this faithful transfer. 

Masterwork Index: Mendelssohn's violin concerto