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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Violin Sonatina in G major, Op.100, B183 (1893) [19:38]
Romantic Pieces Nos. 1-3, Op.75, B150 (1887) [6:23]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No.5 in F major, Op.24 Spring (1801) [21:53]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Violin Sonata in A major, D.574 Duo (1817) [18:26]
Siegfried Borries (violin)
Michael Raucheisen (piano)
rec. February 1943 (Dvořák), April 1944 (Beethoven) and May 1944 (Schubert) Haus des Rundfunks, Barlin, Masurenallee
MELOCLASSIC MC2010 [66:23]

A whole sub-line in releases by concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic would fill quite a handily sized box. Gerhard Taschner has been the recipient of many releases on a variety of labels, and Szymon Goldberg made the bulk of his recorded legacy after leaving Germany. Erich Röhn made no studio recordings but broadcasts survive and Meloclassic has done its part in restoring his legacy. Siegfried Borries (1912-1980), however, did make a number of discs on 78 and LP. Promoted to the leadership of the orchestra after Goldberg was ousted in 1933, in 1941 Karajan lured Borries to the Preussische Staatskapelle Berlin as its concertmaster. After the War, Borries returned to his old position but disputes shadowed him in the 1950s ending in his suspension and removal from the Berlin Philharmonic, to be replaced by Michel Schwalbé.
There are four pieces in this disc, recorded in Berlin between February 1943 and May 1944. Of them the Beethoven Spring Sonata and Schubert Duo form part of his commercial discography but apart from the ubiquitous Humoresque he left behind no recordings of the music of Dvořák which makes the Sonatina and the Romantic Pieces especially valuable to have. The Sonatina – as with everything here, graced by the accomplished Michael Raucheisen, the accompanist of choice in Germany at the time - allows one to hear Borries’ sweet, slightly cloying and rather tense mechanism in action. His portamenti are fast and endemic, albeit in the last of the four pieces they can be tremulous. The acoustic – you’ll need to turn up the volume a touch – imparts a slightly strident edge to things but even so Borries’ tone emerges as rather one-dimensional, though his technique is fine. The phrasing? A touch prosaic, the ethos remaining Germanic. Unfortunately he only plays three of the four Romantic Pieces, in the same 1943 broadcast. The attack is a little razory from time to time. There’s a very brief tape glitch 1:45 into the second piece. I’m not sure why the pieces are credited as arrangements by Paul Kletzki in the documentation: a slip.
The studio acoustic is a bit more naturally judged in the 1944 sessions with the result that things aren’t quite so aggressive-sounding, though there’s a slightly boomy quality to the piano spectrum. Borries’ 78 set of the Spring was made with Rosl Schmid for Grammophon, and she, incidentally, is also represented in Meloclassic’s catalogue. With Raucheisen we get a thoroughly dependable performance, with strong accenting in the first movement, a rather prayerful slow movement and a finale just slightly sentimentalised in places, where there’s a want of true vivacity. The Schubert Duo was taped a month later, and reveals the solid ensemble and rapport between the two instrumentalists. Nothing is taken for granted, and there’s a warmly textured slow movement as a highlight. Borries recorded this post-war with E. Michel for Grammophon.
The documentation with this digipak is first class. Once again I rather wish the studio acoustic had been preserved throughout the pieces and not cut off and restarted for each ensuing movement. The gap between some of the works is also too small. But these are minor points. These are valuable archive documents for the violin specialist. Whilst Borries will not garner the cachet of Taschner, he well deserves his place in this series, especially in such sympathetic restorations as these.
Jonathan Woolf