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Salmond Columbia 850092
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Felix Salmond (cello)
The Complete Columbia Recordings (1926-30)
Simeon Rumschisky, Harry Kaufman (piano)
rec. 1926-1930, New York City
BIDDULPH 85009-2 [77:35 + 66:35]

Felix Salmond (1888-1952) hailed from a family of professional musicians. His mother, a pianist, had studied with Clara Schumann, and his father was a baritone. His primary teacher was William Whitehouse, with whom he began studying at age 12. At the age of 16, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. Salmond continued his studies there with Whitehouse. He went to the Brussels Conservatoire at the age of 19. His teacher there for two more years was Edouard Jacobs. In 1922 he relocated to New York and eventually assumed teaching commitments at both Juilliard and Curtis. His pupils included Leonard Rose, Samuel Mayes, Orlando Cole, Bernard Greenhouse, Frank Miller, Eleanor Aller and Elsa Hilger. He became an ardent champion of contemporary composers, including Georges Enescu, Frank Bridge and Ernst Bloch. He gave the UK premiere of Samuel Barber’s Sonata with the composer at the piano.

Strangely, Salmond's last commercial recordings date from 1930, when he was only forty-two, yet his concert career continued for much longer. During the Depression, in the 1930s, instrumentalists seemed only to record in Europe, and Salmond was based in America. The situation did change but it came too late for him, as the focus of attention then switched to the ‘new generation’ cellists, such as Feuermann and Piatigorsky. Yet his playing does have a modern feel, devoid of the over-sentimentalized, portamento-laden excesses of some of his contemporaries. These recordings on this 2 CD set were set down in New York between 1926 and 1930.

The two most substantial works in the set are Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69, and Grieg’s Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36. Both have previously been released by Pristine (PACM095) in transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Not having heard this disc I’m unable to offer comparisons with Ward Marston’s efforts for Biddulph. In the Beethoven, the opening movement is darkly shaded and pensive in character, with much made in the following Scherzo of the tight rhythmic syncopations. Salmond’s rich tone is to the fore in the Adagio cantabile, which precedes a finale notable for its breathtaking virtuosity. The 7 Variations on “Bei Männern” from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte is an uplifting reading imbued with joy and humour.

I’m pleased that Salmond recorded the Grieg Sonata, as taken a bit of a backseat in the cellist’s performing repertoire. I’ve never understood why as it’s a delightful work, rhapsodic and lyrical. Salmond, partnered by Simeon Rumschisky, delivers a dramatic opener full of passion, whilst at the same time savouring the lyrical elements. The final movement is enriched with folk elements and Nordic charm.

There’s a generous selection of short pieces on offer. Bach’s Arioso from the Concerto in F minor, BWV1056 opens CD 1. It’s eloquently contoured and ardently etched and immediately reveals a warm, generous tone. Bruch’s Kol Nidrei is richly evocative, and here receives a reading tenderly dignified. Grieg’s To Spring, a glowing account, made up the last side of the composer’s Cello Sonata. Schumann’s Träumerei is radiant and glisteningly expressive. Salmond’s makes brief excursions into hispanic territory with Pierné’s Serenade, Op. 7 and Granados’ Goyescas Intermezzo.

As always we should be thankful for Ward Marston's transfers; he’s worked wonders with the original 78s. Tully Potter’s notes provide the listener with a detailed biographical portrait of the artist. I’m certain that this release will be a compulsory purchase for cello fanciers and historical recording enthusiasts.

Stephen Greenbank

Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Arioso, from Concerto in F minor, BWV1056 [3:50]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1828)
7 Variations on “Bei Männern” from Die Zauberflöte [9:44]
Cello Sonata No 3 in A major, Op 69 (1807-08) [23:17]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Träumerei, from Kinderszenen, Op 15 (1838) [3:15]
Abendlied, No 12 from Klavierstücke für kleine und grosse Kinder, Op 85 arr Popper [3:10]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Largo, from Cello Sonata in G minor, Op 65 (1846) [3:29]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Lyric Pieces Book 3: To Spring, Op 43 No 6, arr cello (1886) [3:08]
Cello Sonata in A minor, Op 36 (1883) [27:18]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Tre giorni son che Nina (attributed) [3:31]
Giovanni Battista SAMMARTINI (1700-1775)
Allegro, from Cello Sonata in G (attributed) [3:08]
Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895)
Berceuse, from Jocelyn (1888) [3:06]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Adagietto from L’Arlésienne (1872) [2:42]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
The Swan, from Carnival of the Animals (1886) [2:42]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Berceuse (Cradle Song), Op 16 (1879) [3:39]
Trois melodies: Après un rêve, Op 7 No 1 (pub 1878) arr Pablo Casals [2:38]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Minuet, from Petite Suite (1886-89) [2:58]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Serenade, Op 7 (1881) [3:16]
Antonio de PIANELLI (1747-1803)
Villanelle arr. Joseph Salmon [3:45]
Georg GOLTERMANN (1824-1898)
Cello Concerto No 1, Op 14: Andante (1852) [3:14]
David POPPER (1843-1913)
Gavotte in D major, Op 23 [3:42]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Intermezzo, from Goyescas (Los majos enamorados) (1909-11) [4:16]
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Sérénade espagnole, Op 20 No 2 (1888) [2:51]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
In the Stillness of the Night, Op 4 No 3 [3:08]
Edward MACDOWELL (1860-1908)
To a Wild Rose, from Woodland Sketches, Op 51 (1896) [2:14]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Mélodie, H99 (1911) [3:49]
Londonderry Air, arr. O’Connor-Morris [3:47]
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Kol Nidrei, Op 47 (1881) [8:20]


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