Recorded in the Teatro Social, Bergamo Città Alta, in
January 2012 this no frills DVD, without booklet but with pertinent
dates and locations, documents the art of Christian Joseph Saccon,
an Italian violinist about whom I’ve written before. As
I wrote in that review,
he was a student of G. Volpato he has also studied with Tibor
Varga, Uto Ughi, Pierre Amoyal, Franco Gulli and Zakar Bron.
This has exposed him to Russian, Italian, and Franco-Belgian
stylists, amongst others, but from the recordings I have heard
there is no evidence of a lack of focus or any sense of pulling
in divergent directions.
Here he plays Brahms’s Concerto with the touring MAV Budapest
Symphony Orchestra directed by Michele Santorsola. The camera
angles are utilitarian, perfectly functional for the most part
but rather limited, with one notable exception mentioned below.
We see shots from an audience perspective, so we see only the
back of Santorsola, never his face, and never sideways on or
from within the body of the orchestra itself. In other circumstances
this would be a disappointment in contemporary footage but in
Santorsola’s case one suspects not much is being missed.
He is not a man to break sweat and takes Richard Strauss’s
dictum about rather making the audience sweat almost to extremes.
Frankly, he makes Adrian Boult look like Usain Bolt.
Nothing wrong with that, as long as the conductor marshals his
forces productively and generates sympathetic response and gets
good ensemble. For the most part that happens. Saccon is a big
man, leonine, and when his great locks fall over his forehead
the physical similarity to that colossus of the fiddle, Eugène
Ysaÿe, is notable. Saccon sways as he plays, but doesn’t
go gardening as some pert young things are wont to do on stage
(no names) or knee-bending exercises whilst squinting (stand
up, Joshua Bell). He gives a few leads to the conductor, mainly
by head nodding in anticipation of entries or phrase exits,
and gets more involved as the concerto develops. By the finale
he has become more and more animated, relishing the gypsy rhythms
and hopping about a bit.
Two more demerits must be noted. Firstly, the rather desperate
attempt to locate the oboist and to frame him in shot for his
solo in the second movement. Alas, he’s half hidden behind
another player so we can enjoy the winds harmonising instead.
Second, the audio element doesn’t fully do justice to
Saccon’s tone; his upper notes don’t emerge with
sufficient body of tone, and there’s a shrillness sometimes
that I’ve not found in my other encounters with him on
CD. Things improve for the dashing bravura solo of Kreisler’s
Recitative and Scherzo which receives a truly spirited reading.
There are spoken introductions and commentary with Christian
Joseph Saccon, Elisabetta Albini, Bernardino Zappa in Italian
only. There is no facility for subtitling.
This release is more for Saccon admirers than for a wider audience.
Some technical deficiencies rule it out for them. But for the
former, this is just one of a number of videos emerging that
capture the art of this fine player.
Masterwork index: Brahms