César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) [25:03]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Violin Sonata in G (1923-27) [17:05]
Ossy Renardy (violin)
Eugene List (piano)
rec. 1953, NYC
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR484 [42:11]
Austrian violinist Oscar Reiss (1920-53) took the name Ossy Renardy, and it was his melancholy fate to swell the ranks of brilliant young violinists who died prematurely - Rabin, Kersey, Hassid and Neveu, amongst many. Further poignancy attaches to this reissue, given that its LP appearance on Remington in December 1953 coincided with Renardy’s death in a car crash en route to a Mexican tour - Renardy had taken American citizenship.
He is joined by Eugene List, an outstanding pianist married to a fellow fiddler of Renardy’s - Carroll Glenn. Renardy and List perform the Franck sonata in a suave and commanding fashion. Renardy’s super-fast finger vibrato is strongly in evidence and it furnishes intensity to everything he plays. Evident also is his sophisticated approach to portamenti, which are happily part of his expressive arsenal, when appropriate. Many violinists resort to very wide and smeary vibrato in the Allegro second movement; Renardy does too, to an extent, but the playing transcends objections, being masculine and dramatic. These qualities apply to the Recitativo-Fantasia though here there is certainly a just criticism, which is not the fault of either musician: Remington’s balance strongly favours Renardy so that his passagework takes aural precedence over List’s more important piano part at too many points. Nevertheless the intimacy of expression is laudable and so too is the finale, where there’s real clarity and dynamism - though, again, it’s a pity about the skewed balance.
In the Ravel, it’s inevitable that one should reach, for points of comparison, for the LP made about a year later by Zino Francescatti and Artur Balsam. Renardy and List are very much more constricted colouristically; more troublingly they are nowhere near as rhythmically supple or energised as the older pairing. Ensemble, however, is estimable and there are many good things about the performance, it’s just that in vital places - such as the Blues movement - Renardy and List seem oddly metronomic, and just a bit plain. In terms of colour and subtly allusive phrasing, I’m afraid that Francescatti leaves Renardy at the starting gate all too often.
The playing time faithfully reflects the LP’s length. Of the two performances the players are significantly more attuned stylistically to the hothouse intensity of the Franck. Their Ravel is at a much lower level of engagement.
A sophisticated approach to portamenti coupled with super-fast finger vibrato.