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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D Op.77 [40:08]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D Op.35 [36:10]
Janine Andrade (violin)
Hamburg Pro Musica (North German Radio Symphony Orchestra)/Hans-Jürgen Walther
rec. c.1959, Hamburg.

It was an enthusiastic review of these recordings by Tully Potter in the Winter 2012 edition of Classical Recordings Quarterly that initially alerted me to and roused my curiosity about the French violinist Janine Andrade. That incarnation was on the obscure Japanese Grand Slam label. The logistics, at the time, of acquiring it and incurring import duty ruled it out as a financially viable proposition. I decided to wait for an alternative release. In the meantime, I’ve had the good fortune to review two volumes of live radio broadcasts the violinist made that have been issued on the Meloclassic label (review ~ review). Well, my patience has finally paid off and here we have, thanks to Forgotten Records, the recordings in question. They were made in Hamburg in 1959 with the Hamburg Pro Musica, aka The North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Hans-Jürgen Walther.

One reason Janine Andrade is virtually unknown today is that she never secured a contract with one of the major labels. Her discography is meagre, and her LPs are scarce. She was born in Besançon in 1918 and took up the violin early. Her mother was a pianist and in 1926, when Janine was only seven, she was accompanist at her daughter’s first concert. Eventually Andrade went on to study at the Paris Conservatoire under Jacques Thibaud and Jules Boucherit. A near contemporary and fellow student was Michèle Auclair (1924-2005). Her concert career, though temporarily halted by the war, took her as far afield as Japan, South America and South Africa. Sadly, it was to be short-lived. In 1972, when she was only fifty-four, she suffered a massive stroke which left her with a right-sided paralysis and aphasia. Her career over, she spent her final days in a nursing home and died in hospital in 1997.

The Brahms Concerto reveals Andrade as a violinist with a secure technique. Her intonation is for the most part spot on. She has a big sound which is ideally suited to a work such as this. Hans-Jürgen Walther sets the scene well with comfortable, forward-moving tempi in the opening tutti, and draws a rich well-balanced sound from the orchestra. Throughout, tension never sags, especially in the more lyrical moments. In the slow movement, the oboe solo is beautifully contoured, and Andrade's phrasing of the elegant lines is raptly intense. The finale is exuberant with taut, biting rhythms. Tully Potter states in his CRC review that the acoustic during the first movement cadenza is slightly different and the final orchestral beat before it is missing in the Grand Slam edition, which he puts down to a “botched edit”. Here, the acoustic is identical throughout, and the orchestral final beat is present. What is more of a conundrum, however, is that Potter states that Andrade plays the Kreisler cadenza, yet on this CD she plays the one by Joachim. It’s puzzling.

I'm not too keen on this Tchaikovsky Concerto. Hans-Jürgen Walther sets a lethargic pace at the start of the opening movement, and for the duration of its course it remains dead on its feet. Andrade’s playing suffers as a result, and she seems disengaged. The performance lacks vitality, life, drive and fire. The second movement isn’t much better either, with all concerned seemingly on automatic pilot. Only in the finale does the music finally take off and come to life, resulting in an animated and exciting account.

Forgotten Records has provided superb transfers from excellent, well-preserved source-copy LPs. No notes are provided. Although I have strong reservations concerning the Tchaikovsky Concerto, this disc is worth purchasing for the superb Brahms Concerto alone. For those wishing to explore further, Andrade recorded a couple of Mozart Violin Concertos with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Kurt Masur in 1966-67, which have been issued on the Berlin Classics label (0184122BC).

Stephen Greenbank

Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

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