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Ossy Renardy - The Complete Columbia Recordings
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Sonata No.8 in E minor, Op.5 No.8 (pub 1700) [7:10] ¹
Giovanni PLATTI (1697-1763)
Sonata No.1 in E minor (c. 1743) arr. Jarnach [8:37]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Prayer, from Te Deum arr. Carl Flesch [3:26]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Violin Sonatina No.1 in D major, D384 (1816) [11:05]
Violin Sonatina No.3 in G minor, D408; movements 3 and 4 only (1816) [4:23]
Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Sonata No.12 in E minor, Op.3 No.6 MS27 (1805-09) [2:52]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Violin Sonatina in G minor, B183, Op.100 (1893) [11:57]
Slavonic Dance in G minor, Op.46 No.8 (1878) arr. Michael Press [3:10]
Willy BURMESTER (1869-1933)
Serenade (‘Viennese Serenade’) [2:58]
Franz von VECSEY (1893-1935)
Caprice No.2 (‘Cascade’) [2:21]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Danzas españolas (1878-82); No.3 Romanza Andaluza, Op.22 No.1 [4:34]: No.4 Jota Navarra, Op.22 No.2 [4:45]: No.6 Zapateado, Op.23 No.2 [3:25]
Ossy Renardy (violin)
Walter Robert (piano)
Leo Taubman (piano) ¹
rec. 1938-39, Columbia Studios, NYC
Mono recordings
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 383 [73:53]

This release sits at a nice discographic tangent to Biddulph’s 2-CD collection of Ossy Renardy’s 1940-41 Victors, collected on now out-of-print LAB061-062; I realise that when I employ that phrase, helpful readers will rush to praise the utility of the download. Thus Pristine’s single-disc release can be considered a chronological precursor in that it catches the Viennese-born fiddle player at the age of not-quite-eighteen in the first sessions, which were made when Oskar Reiss, his real name, was in New York.
 
I have to say that whilst I admire Renardy’s Brahms Concerto, a transfer or two of which I’ve reviewed, I’ve seldom made a point of listening to my set of the Biddulph Victors. Part of that must relate aurally, I suspect, to Renardy’s exceptionally fast vibrato which tends to limit tonal variety, at least in the earlier recordings. There weren’t to be, sadly, many much later ones as he died in a car crash in December 1953. One appreciates the intensity of the sound and its often crystalline focus, even though one may not warm to the sound production as such.
 
Oddly, Symposium’s transfer of the Corelli Sonata [SYM 1311] on a disc devoted largely to Renardy’s Paganinian gymnastics, whilst having a greater ratio of surface noise than Pristine’s, also preserves slightly more body to Renardy’s tone, and a greater studio immediacy too. US Columbia clearly wasn’t too sure what to make of his repertoire so gave him Baroque energizers and Schubert Sonatinas. He plays Platti’s innocuous Sonata, in the Jarnach arrangement, neatly and brings out the fresh lyricism of the Larghetto well. One can savour that very fast impulse-sounding vibrato in the Handel-Flesch Prayer. Certainly Flesch himself, who recorded it for Edison and for Victor, never played it like this. Renardy’s Schubert is trim and communicative though it was surely a false economy for Columbia to have limited Renardy and pianist Walter Robert to just two movements from D408. The sole Paganini here, the E minor Sonata, was recorded just before his memorable Carnegie Hall debut when he played all the Caprices in the piano accompanied version. He recorded the Caprice cycle twice, for Victor (on Biddulph) and for Remington. Both he and a near-contemporary, Ruggiero Ricci, were then the two young up-and-coming Paganini specialists.
 
The Dvořák Sonatina gets a fresh-faced reading though it’s on a par, interpretatively, with the Decca recording made by Frederick Grinke and Kendall Taylor in England. To complete the original two-disc album, Columbia asked Renardy to record the same composer’s Slavonic Dance, in the same key, G minor. Willy Burmester made records but not of his own Serenade, which Renardy and Robert dispatch with surety. But Franz (Ferenc) von Vecsey did record his own Cascades. Vecsey’s famously vibrato-light and expressively neutral phrasing contrasts strongly with young Renardy’s emotive generosity. It’s likely that Columbia knew of Vecsey’s Polydor recording, made in Berlin a few years earlier than Renardy’s October 1938 disc. Finally there are four pieces by Sarasate, three of them from Danzas Españolas. Dashingly phrased, once again, Zapateado is the one that suffers most from Renardy’s endemic vibrato vitesse.
 
This valuable and astutely selected slice of Renardy’s discography will be of real interest to violin collectors.
 
Jonathan Woolf