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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (1903/05) [34:28]
Six Humoresques, Op. 87 and Op. 89 for violin and orchestra (1917) [20:27]
Salvatore Accardo (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
rec. 6-9 March 1979, All Saints' Church, Tooting, London, UK. ADD
ELOQUENCE 482 5097 [54:55]

These are old friends to some with the potential to make new conquests for others. That's what these two pieces of vinyl era treasure are. We can complain about the total playing time - a relic of LP origins - but as for the music-making it's out of the elite rank.

Accardo knows his stuff and plays with a steady bow - no trace of a beat in his tone production. His notes are hit spot on the nose. He started out as the first violinist to record all the Paganini violin concertos (DG) but among much else also made a complete, and much reissued set for Philips of the works for violin and orchestra by Bruch. His excellent Walton/Elgar concertos coupling originally came out on Collins but has been gainfully re-employed by Regis and then by Brilliant Classics.

As far as the Sibelius Concerto is concerned, as I have said before, Accardo takes trouble and time to touch in the colours and the poetry (review). He is no speed merchant - Stern, Damen (remarkable - also on Eloquence) and even Heifetz/Stokowski were noticeably quicker. He adds dramatic gravamen without lumbering.

As for the Humoresques they have been favourites of mine since I discovered them through the Vox-Turnabout recording made by Aaron Rosand. They were originally on LP harnessed with Nielsen's Sixth. As works they are fairytale slivers of enchantment - like Liadov's miniatures - six moody, hyper-concentrated, iconic sound-images; at least they are when heard in the best hands. Rosand - although with a recording that is now getting on a bit - is outstanding in them. After hearing the two or three which were done by Oistrakh and by Vilde Frang I wish they had gone on to do all of them; at least Frang can do that. Davis proves an attentive partner to Accardo who probes deeply into each of the six. He adds delicious touches to the orchestral finery. Sample the slip-sliding whisper of the violins in the third Humoresque. The Fifth smokes with slow-burn character. Those are just two of the most obvious and eminent examples of the riches reaped from a luxurious four days of sessions for the LP (Philips 9500 675) first released in October 1980. The sound is out of Philips' natural and open best vintage. It's strange that although Davis recorded the seven symphonies at least three times he seems never to have gone back to the Violin Concerto - at least not in the studio.

The well done liner-note, in English only, is by Raymond Tuttle. Cyrus Meher-Homji who has produced this reissue label from its earliest days - can take a bow yet again. One of the finest readings of the Concerto and a great traversal of the Humoresques.

Rob Barnett



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