One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Availability
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 (1806) [40:36]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Rondo in A, for violin and orchestra, D.438 (1816) [12:02]
Arthur Grumiaux (violin)
Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Francaise/Rafael Kubelík  (Beethoven) Carl Schuricht  (Schubert)
rec. January 1961, Paris (Beethoven) and September 1959, Montreux (Schubert)
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR705 [52:41]

It’s always valuable to encounter live examples of Arthur Grumiaux’s Beethoven Concerto to supplement the studio inscriptions he left behind. Familiarity with his 1957 recording with van Beinum, or his 1966 Galliera, or the more recent Concertgebouw disc with Colin Davis, may seem to be sufficient, given how unflappable and consistent an artist he remained. That said, there are invariably extra flashes of drama and local incident that vest live performances with a frisson of expectancy.

It’s particularly valuable, therefore, to welcome this 1961 Paris performance marshalled by none other than Rafael Kubelík who was almost always a most sympathetic but authoritative concerto accompanist. The percussion is rather muffled, and this watery quotient is one of the few disappointing things about the recorded performances, along with a somewhat swimmy acoustic and a tendency of the engineers to turn the volume down for tuttis. Set against that is the strong orchestral support offered by the Czech conductor and the firm sense of direction: Kubelik is certainly faster in basic pulse in the first movement than Galliera and that encourages Grumiaux’s expressivity to flourish at a good firm tempo. The big-boned orchestral sound stage also offers a strong platform for the soloist’s spinto tone quality, especially noticeable after the first movement cadenza, though this quality – I recall it being referred to once as ‘glistening’ – is thankfully omnipresent.

It’s a shame that the tutti level is so dampened by the engineers – to mitigate overload, I assume -. though in compensation, and as a direct result, one can hear Grumiaux’s eloquent bowing through the orchestral mass. The slow movement reveals an increasing range of tone colours from the violinist in a reading that in its essential lyricism is on a par with his studio recordings. The finale sees more knob-twiddling from the engineers’ booth and a resumption of audience shuffling and coughing. Whilst the sonic stage is not the most subtle, Grumiaux surmounts everything with splendid facility and dancing assurance. Applause is retained, though once again the orchestra’s final contribution is artificially dampened.

The violinist only left one studio recording of Schubert’s Rondo, made with the New Philharmonia and Raymond Leppard, so this live one with Carl Schuricht is valuable, for that reason alone. Fortunately, Grumiaux plays with buoyancy, and joie de vivre. It’s a shame that the chilly recording imparts a resinous quality to his tone.

Nevertheless, whilst the differences between this performance of the Concerto and the studio inscriptions may be less overt than between his early 1951-52 Boston recordings of chamber music and his later readings, there is much to commend this relatively rare example of Grumiaux on the wing in this Concerto.

Jonathan Woolf

Masterwork Index: Beethoven violin concerto