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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (1903 rev. 1905) [28:22]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata No. 2 in A major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100 (1886) [20:14]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Polonaise brillante in A major, Op. 21 (1870) [8:07]
Scherzo-Tarantelle Op. 16 (1856) [4:37]
Etude-caprice Op. 18 No. 4 (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [1:26]
Souvenir de Moscou Op. 6 (1853) [8:16]
Polonaise brillante Op. 4 (1853) [4:46]
Etude Op. 10 No. 5 Caprice alla saltarella (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [1:50]
Arnold Eidus (violin)
Orchestra of the Vienna Orchestral Society/Frederick Hummel
Leopold Mittmann (piano: Brahms)
Eileen Flissler (piano: Wieniawski)
rec. c. 1952

Arnold Eidus (1922-2013) was the first American to win the prestigious Concours Thibaud in Paris in 1946. A pupil of Louis Persinger, one of the most prestigious of all American-based teachers whose other pupils include Menuhin, Ricci and many others, Eidus went on to have a medium-ranking solo career but was very active in the studios. His recordings are quite elusive these days, though his few 78s can be found, as well as the series of LPs he made, some for his own label, Stradivari Records.

This restoration focuses on a concerto, a sonata, and virtuoso fare. In a sense virtuosity permeates the whole disc, exemplified by the hot-house, unbridled and indeed somewhat undisciplined performance of the Sibelius Concerto. It was made with a lethargic, occasionally grudging orchestra in Vienna, directed by little-known Frederick Hummel, who seems incapable or unwilling to bring a real Sibelian sound-world to the proceedings – best not listen to the sour winds, for example. The soloist is somewhat crudely spot-lit – though no more shamelessly than Heifetz and his confrères in the days of soloist-and-carriage 1950s recordings. Then there is Eidus, who engages in a battery of rhetorical phraseology, extreme rubati and showy accelerandi – musical larceny on a grand scale. His tone is somewhat viola-like in the slow movement – rough edits along the way - though heavily vibrated passages sound rather self-conscious and imposed. There is throughout a kind of torrid intensity to the playing that sounds unnatural – imposed rather than truly felt, though this may be a misperception on my part. The finale isn’t blemish free, but it is boldly projected. He was certainly no shrinking violet.

Leopold Mittmann is the accommodating pianist in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No.2 which reinforces these restless, erratic qualities – graphic dynamics such as the technology of the time would allow, romanticised inflexions and a rather all-purpose exaggerated response to phraseology. The Wieniawski selection sees him accompanied by Eileen Flissler who was a fine collaborative artist – see her later recordings with Aaron Rosand, especially the Vox set of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas. Eidus has the bravado for this kind of repertoire and if he lacks, say, Ricci’s galvanising precision, he acquits himself well enough here.

Alexis Galpérine contributes a fine booklet essay – in French and English – which perceptively traces Eidus’ life. It’s clear from this disc why Eidus would not have been able to sustain a top career in the desperately overcrowded American scene soon to be dominated by the rising star of Isaac Stern. That said, his individuality is in itself interesting and he’s no anodyne practitioner. Graphic playing like this is often miscast here, but deserves to be heard. High level hiss is just audible in these fine restorations.

Jonathan Woolf



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