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The Art of Arthur Grumiaux

Mozart / Schubert / Mendelssohn / Grumiaux
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Andromeda   Catalog #: 9116   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz SchubertFelix MendelssohnCésar Franck,   ... 
Performer:  Arthur GrumiauxRiccardo CastagnoneHans AltmannHermann von Beckerath
Conductor:  Frieder WeissmannLorin MaazelHans Müller-KrayBernhard Paumgartner,   ... 
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 4 Hours 27 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

THE ART OF ARTHUR GRUMIAUX Arthur Grumiaux (vn); Frieder Weissmann 1 , Lorin Maazel 2 , Hans Müller-Kray 3 , Bernhard Paumgartner 4 , Carlo Maria Giulini 6 , Ernest Ansermet 8 , Ernest Bour 10 , cond; Riccardo Castagnone Read more class="SUPER12">5 , Hans Altmann 7 (pn); Hermann von Beckerath (vc); 9 RAI SO of Turin; 1 Cologne RSO; 2 South German RSO; 3 Mozarteum O; 4 Frankfurt RSO; 6 O de la Suisse Romande; 8 Bavarian RSO 10 ANDROMEDA 9116, mono (4 CDs: 266:57) Live: Turin, Cologne, Mühlacker, Salzburg, Frankfurt, Munich 1951–62

MOZART 1 Violin Concerto No. 1 2 Violin Concerto No. 3. 3 Violin Concerto No. 4. 4 Violin Concerto No. 5. MENDELSSOHN 6 Violin Concerto in e. SCHUBERT 5 Violin Sonata in A. FRANCK 7 Violin Sonata in A. BRAHMS 8 Violin Concerto. CHAUSSON 1 Poème for Violin and Orchestra. RAVEL 9 Sonata for Violin and Cello. 1 Tzigane. STRAVINSKY 10 Violin Concerto. YSAźE Sonata for Violin Solo, Ballade in d

Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921–1986) was a fixture of the concert and recording scene when I was growing up. His playing was impeccably clean in style, utilizing a very narrow vibrato that gave his tone a lean yet shimmering sound, very little portamento, and enlivening inflections that provided a nice rhythmic “lift” to his performances. As this set clearly shows, his proclivities were, for the most part, towards Classical and Romantic composers, though he did play the Stravinsky and Berg concertos and Ravel sonata. According to Wikipedia, he made roughly 30 albums during his active career, mostly for the Dutch Philips label but also for EMI. He was, it seems, one of those violinists, like Nathan Milstein, who was admired as much if not more by his peers than by the general public, though of course he was always a top draw in concerts.

Since Grumiaux played most of these works so often (particularly the Mozart concertos, which he recorded complete for Philips with Colin Davis in 1961–62), there are several alternate performances of many of these pieces floating around; e.g., the Mozart No. 1 with Paumgartner and Nos. 3 and 4 with Moralt (the Concerto No. 5 with Paumgartner is on this set), the Mendelssohn Concerto with a very young Haitink, the Brahms with van Beinum, etc. The cover of this set announces that these live performances are all newly remastered in 24-bit/96 kHz sound.

I was particularly fascinated by his interpretation of the Schubert sonata: crisp, direct, and completely lacking in sentimentality, much like Toscanini’s performances of the Schubert symphonies. This is a performance that will thrill musically scrupulous listeners but not at all those who insist that their Schubert be full of Viennese schmaltz. Grumiaux’s version of the Mendelssohn Concerto is quite excellent as well, with surprisingly brisk conducting by Giulini; nothing is rushed, all the notes “sound” with perfect equipoise, yet there is tremendous élan in this reading (and sensitivity, too, relaxing the tempo here and there and playing an absolutely ethereal first-movement cadenza). Because he was Belgian, Grumiaux was sometimes compared to his great predecessor Ysaÿe, but to my ears his sweet, lean tone had much more in common with Sarasate than with Ysaÿe’s somewhat darker sound. As a matter of fact, I felt that Grumiaux’s lean sonority and objectivist approach didn’t work for me in the Franck Sonata or Brahms Concerto, the only performances on the set that I found too uninvolved. I was, however, fascinated by the way he played Ravel, which (as it turns out) was much like his Stravinsky: lean, angular contours, no sentimentality at all, and a way of bringing out the structure without unduly overstressing it. Indeed, the entire last CD was a gem from start to finish.

Your proclivity to acquire this set will probably have as much to do with your desire to own every note Grumiaux ever recorded if you already have most of the studio versions, especially since we are dealing here with monophonic radio sound of varying quality (rather dry in the Turin broadcasts, somewhat roomier and warmer in the German airchecks), particularly since this set is selling for the somewhat hefty price of $52 on Amazon. However, I can attest that Andromeda did a whale of a job cleaning up the sound so that everything sounds clear without the least bit of distortion, particularly in the sound of the string sections of each orchestra, and there is no question that Grumiaux is interesting to hear from start to finish.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin no 1 in B flat major, K 207 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Frieder Weissmann
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/02/1962 
Venue:  Torino 
Length: 18 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin no 3 in G major, K 216 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/09/1958 
Venue:  Köln 
Length: 21 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin no 4 in D major, K 218 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Hans Müller-Kray
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/16/1951 
Venue:  Mühlacker 
Length: 21 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin no 5 in A major, K 219 "Turkish" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Bernhard Paumgartner
Written: 1775 
Date of Recording: 08/05/1956 
Venue:  Salzburg 
Length: 27 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, D 574/Op. 162 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Riccardo Castagnone (Piano), Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/17/1957 
Venue:  Torino 
Length: 17 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1960 
Venue:  Frankurt 
Length: 26 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Hans Altmann (Piano), Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Venue:  München 
Length: 25 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/27/1960 
Venue:  Genčve 
Length: 36 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Počme for Violin and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 25 by Ernest Chausson
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Frieder Weissmann
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; France 
Date of Recording: 02/02/1962 
Venue:  Torino 
Length: 15 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Cello by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Hermann von Beckerath (Cello), Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1922; France 
Date of Recording: 10/08/1953 
Venue:  Frankfurt 
Length: 19 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Tzigane for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Frieder Weissmann
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Date of Recording: 02/02/1962 
Venue:  Torino 
Length: 9 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in D major by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Conductor:  Ernest Bour
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1961 
Venue:  München 
Length: 20 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 3 in D minor "Ballade" by Eugčne Ysa˙e
Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Venue:  München 
Length: 5 Minutes 41 Secs. 

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