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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 (1806) [43:46]
Romance No.1 in G, Op. 40 (1803) [7:51]
Romance No.2 in F, Op.50 (1805) [9:43]
Bronislaw Gimpel (violin)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Heinrich Hollreiser
rec. February 1955, Bamberg

Archive material stored by radio companies and long overlooked LPs form the basis of recent restorations of the art of Bronislaw Gimpel. Previously it was really only his Vox LPs that were much known, but now, and very happily, there has been a real expansion of his representation on disc. There are three concertos from broadcasts on Meloclassic (review) and as for Forgotten Records, they have already trawled his LP legacy to restore his Paganini, Glazunov and Lalo (review), as well as Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky concertos from Bamberg (review). There are also valuable examples of his chamber repertoire to be savoured (review ~ review).

Now a significant gap has been restored with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Romances, which join the Triple Concerto (review) as another major Gimpel contribution to the discography. The sessions were recorded in Bamberg over two days in February 1955 with the dependable Heinrich Hollreiser directing the local orchestral, the same orchestra that accompanied in the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky concertos. It’s noticeable how, once the opening octaves are surmounted, Gimpel accentuates the rhythmic nature of the taut articulation of the succeeding passages. His tonal projection is familiar; expressive, intense, personalised, sometimes romanticised, orientated toward an Eastern European rather than Germanic sound. His tills are tight, electric in speed, and his bright sound, seconded by a bass-up Bamberg sonority, provides many opportunities to bring warmth and character to the writing. His second subject is beautifully phrased, neither too fleet not too indulged.

His songful approach to the slow movement is lyrically generous and always vibrant and alive – buoyant both rhythmically and expressively. There’s also tenderness as well, the kind of tenderness that irradiated the slow movement of his performances of the slow movement of the Goldmark Concerto, for example. There’s a charming bridge passage and fine rhythmic spring into the finale. His upper strings remain crystalline and his cadenza is as commanding as that in the first movement. Gimpel was never a shrinking violet in terms of his communicative generosity and so it proves here.

He is unafraid to take some time in the Romances If you enjoy Schneiderhan, to cite a near-contemporary, you may find Gimpel too dawdling. As for me, I find him tasteful, elegant, charming and especially affectionate in the Romance in F. The changes of colours he manages to evoke are almost operatic in their intensity and there is much tonal richness.

This is another splendidly transferred, note-less restoration from FR. For those who admire the emotionally generous art of this great violinist there can be no overlooking this release.

Jonathan Woolf

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