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Nadien violin 850122
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David Nadien (violin)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Fantasy in C Major, D. 934 (Op. 159) (1827) [22:32]
Rondo ('Rondo brillant') in B Minor, D. 895 (Op. 70) (1826) [13:44]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A Major (1886) [23:52]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Berceuse, Op.16 (1878) [2:59]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Violin Sonata in G Minor (1917) [11:33]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de Habanera (1907-08) [2:39]
David Hancock (piano)
rec. 1958, New York City
BIDDULPH 85012-2 [77:32]

If you stick around long enough performances on disc will keep coming around on the carousel. The non-Schubert element of this disc has appeared on both Forgotten Records (review) and on Cembal d’amour (review) though in this last named transfer the coupling was different and there was no Ravel. Tempting though it is to copy and paste my reviews, I’m going to resist the temptation and simply summarise.

I admire the Franck most for its tightness and concision and for its admittedly Heifetz-informed expressive devices. Nadien was an unflappable musician, and this is one of the best studio performances of his that I know: direct, unshowy and refined but instantly communicative and with an excellent rapport with David Hancock. In the Debussy I still, once again, find some of the fervid elements of Nadien’s playing to be inimical to a truly successful and stylistically apt reading but it has a suavity and independent way of thinking that impress, despite my cavils. Both the Fauré and Ravel are fine. The former’s Berceuse shows how control of rubato can deceive the ear into thinking something is played too quickly; taut accenting helps. By contrast the Ravel is all stylish command.

This, so far, is terra cognita in the Nadien-Hancock discography and these pieces were first released on a mono Monitor LP in 1958 and then reissued in 1960 in stereo. What was also recorded at the time but never released was the Schubert selection, the Fantasy in C Major and the Rondo brillant. That was clearly destined for a companion Monitor LP but for some reason nothing became of it and only the survival of a test pressing has ensured that it receives its first appearance here. The Fantasy is a very difficult work to project successfully and by and large Nadien and Hancock do well by it. The opening lacks mystery and Heifetz inflexions can be heard (Heifetz didn’t record this until 1968, a decade after Nadien, but Nadien was fully conversant with his ethos) but that’s to be expected. There’s sufficient gracefulness in the Allegretto and dynamics register importantly in the finale. The Rondo brillant is athletic but sensitively shaped. Altogether this is a fortuitous survival and its appearance here expands the studio discography of both men very nicely.

The transfers have been carried out by Jon Samuels who has done an excellent job. The piano spectrum is now defined in a way it never was in the Cembal d’amour transfer and whilst the Forgotten Records is better in that respect, Samuels’ remastering is certainly the one to have. Add to this the two Schuberts and you have an attractive disc for admirers of these two musicians.

Jonathan Woolf

From Mordecai Shehori, Cembal d’amour
The review states that the latest transfer of the Franck sonata is superior to the one I made some years ago. It may be superior according to Mr Woolf's taste but he should have known that I worked very closely on all of Nadien's CDs with Nadien himself. Nadien did not like the way the Franck was recorded by Pianist/Recording engineer David Hancock. Mr. Nadien felt that the piano sound was too aggressive and dominated the sound stage. So I prepared 5 different audio masters for him and after he rejected 4, he finally agreed to the fifth after I reduced the piano presence, especially in the bass, and let the violin be in front ... All Cembal d'amour's recordings of Mr. Nadien were tightly controlled by him and represent exactly how he wanted to be heard and remembered. About The Schubert work, Nadien did not want it to be published.

A reply from Jonathan Woolf
Thanks to Mordecai Shehori for his comments which only show that his own transfer was made specifically to meet David Nadien's requirements, many years later, for a Heifetz-style balance between violin and piano, i.e. plenty of the former and not too much of the latter.

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