Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 6 (1816, arr. one movement by August Wilhelmj) [17:51]
Édouard LALO (1823–1892)
Symphonie espagnole (1875) [32:25]
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Violin Concerto, Op. 82 (1904) [19:14]
Bronislaw Gimpel (violin)
South-West German Radio Symphony Orchestra/Rolf Reinhardt (Paganini)
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra//Fritz Rieger (Lalo)
Pro Musica Stuttgart/Håkan von Eichwald (Glazunov)
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1620 [69:33]
Bronislaw Gimpel made a sequence of recordings for Vox, some of which have been reissued and are pretty well known. However, the Paganini and Glazunov concertos have not been quite so fortunate and their restoration here is very welcome, not least to those of us who admire this violinist so much.
The Paganini is heard in Wilhelmj’s first movement arrangement but enough remains to appreciate once again Gimpel’s virtuoso ease, his tonal splendour and his stylistic aplomb. Yes, the Sauret cadenza is somewhat cut but this recording should be filed away along with those stable mates, the Dvořák and Goldmark concertos, which were made at the same time. Note, too, the romantic exuberance of the orchestra under Rolf Reinhardt.
Glazunov’s Concerto was a strong part of Gimpel’s repertoire, and he played it quite often in Germany in the 50s. A live 1956 traversal in Stuttgart with Müller-Kray has been preserved on Meloclassic (see review) but this studio example is hardly less compelling. It was taped with the Pro Musica Stuttgart and directed by Håkan von Eichwald. I suppose the only demerit, and this is hardly the fault of the performers, is the balancing of the soloist. Gimpel is heard right out in front and whilst orchestral detail certainly registers, the balance remains askew. Nevertheless, Gimpel’s assurance with the music’s poetry and lyricism is rock solid and the variety of colours and inflexions he explores in the Andante sostenuto section is a powerful index of his superior musicianship.
The final concerto is Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole recorded not for Vox but, unusually for Gimpel, for DG, and subsequently reissued on the cheaper Heliodor label. The Munich Philharmonic is conducted by Fritz Rieger and the Intermezzo is intact, thankfully. This is a fine sounding mono, well transferred, and captures the subtlety of Gimpel’s art, and his facility for dynamic variance as well as soloistic warmth and bravura. The Iberian hues of the Scherzando are brought out with flair whilst the Andante is not solemnized or over-vibrated; it remains expressive but not treacly. His multi-varied coloration is romantically orientated and definably Eastern European; there’s little in the way of raffish Francophile whimsy, but his articulation is spot-on, his commitment unyieldingly fine and the balance here is much better than the Glazunov.
Gimpel’s art is celebrated here in excellent transfers from fine-sounding LPs.