Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 12 No. 1, RV317 (arr. Nachez) [16:52]
NewSymphony Orchestra/Lawrance Collingwood
rec. 29 September 1931, Kingsway Hall, London
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Romance No. 1 in G major, Op. 40 (1798) [7:36]
Romance No. 2 in F major, Op. 50 (1802) [9:21]
rec. 30 November 1932, EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844) [28:17]
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Desiré Defauw
rec. 8 March 1947, Orchestra Hall, Chicago
Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Caprice in A minor, Op. 1, No. 24 (arr. Elman) [13:25]
rec. 3 April 1951, RCA Studio No. 2, New York
Mischa Elman (violin) with accompaniments as above
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 339 [75:31]
There is still work to do on Elman’s recorded legacy. This disc, for instance, has cannily located items new to his CD discography - the Vivaldi Concerto, the Paganini and the Romance in F by Beethoven. Both the G major Romance and the Mendelssohn Concerto have been transferred to silver disc but it’s an indication that gaps are yet fully to be filled in this respect, so kudos to Pristine Audio for sourcing these items.
The better known of his two commercial recordings of Vivaldi’s G minor Concerto in the arrangement by the Hungarian-born but British-resident fiddle player and composer Tivadar Nachez (will anyone get around to recording his Violin Concertos?) is with Vladimir Golschmann in Vienna on Vanguard. But this shellac version was made many years earlier, in 1931, with the New Symphony Orchestra conducted by the ever dependable Lawrance Collingwood. Lucky band to have Elman sliding so seductively and sweetly in front of them! When he joins in for tuttis the result is like a force of violinistic nature. Elman makes typically expansive ritardandi, and plays throughout with luscious tonal breadth, perfectly suited to an ultra-romanticised approach to this repertoire. It’s playing of great communicative warmth. Interestingly, whilst the first two movements were significantly slower later on, he took the finale in Vienna at a good, fast lick - faster, in fact, than in this 1931 performance.
He recorded the two Beethoven Romances the following year, once again with Collingwood, but this time an ad-hoc band. This was the only occasion he recorded them, and he’s especially effective in the F major, a work that can go on a bit if you’re not careful. He lavishes rich legato but also refined lyricism on it, but in a manner that was beginning to sound almost defiantly old fashioned even by 1932.
He returned to the Mendelssohn with Golschmann in those Viennese LP sessions, but here is his only other studio recording of it (there’s a live performance with Mitropoulos) with Desiré Defauw who was, like Golschmann, an ex-fiddle player. This is a lovely performance with lashing of his ebullient musicality, expansive rubati, tonal breadth, succulent slides and quite expansive ethos. There is some rather over-expansive phrasing in the first movement that impedes its rhythmic development, but he is wonderfully vivid in the slow movement and turns on the charm, and élan, in the finale. Defauw knows all the twists and turns, and all the technical problems, and accompanies excellently. The recording is pretty good as well. We end with a rather outrageous bit of nineteenth-century braggadocio, Elman’s own elaboration of Paganini’s A minor Caprice, played with pianist Wolfgang Rosé.
The transfers have been very well done. Elman fanciers can fill some gaps here.
Elman fanciers can fill some gaps here.
Masterwork Index: Mendelssohn violin concerto