Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D major Op.77
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Recitative and Scherzo for solo violin
Christian Joseph Saccon (violin)
MAV Budapest Symphony Orchestra/Michele Santorsola
Spoken introductions and commentary with Christian Joseph Saccon, Elisabetta Albini, Bernardino Zappa
rec. 5 January 2012, Teatro Social, Bergamo Città Alta
Video 16:9 HD, Audio Stereo PCM 48kHz/24bit, Region 0
AUD DVD 115 [81:30]
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.
Jonathan Woolf

Captures the art of this fine player. 

Masterwork index: Brahms violin concerto