BRONISLAW HUBERMAN: SHORT PIECES • Bronislaw Huberman (vn); Siegfried Schultze (pn)1 • OPUS KURA 2002, mono (47: 13)
BACH Violin Partita No. 1: Sarabande and Double. Violin Sonata No. 2: Andante. Orchestral Suite No. 3: Air.1 CHOPINRead more class="ARIAL12b"> Waltz, op. 64/2.1 Nocturne, op. 15/2.1 SCHUBERT Ave Maria (arr. Wilhelmj).1 BRAHMS Waltz, op. 39/15.1 Hungarian Dance No. 1.1 ZARZYCKI Mazurka.1 BRUCH Kol Nidrei.1 TCHAIKOVSKY Mélodie.1 SARASATE Romanza andaluza1
Bronislaw Huberman recorded the short pieces in Opus Kura’s collection for Columbia between 1929 (Tchaikovsky’s Mélodie) and 1934 (Bach’s Saraband and Double and his Andante). Opus Kura gives the year and matrix number of each, but the booklet’s notes appear only in Japanese. Still, notes won’t be required for most listeners with an appreciation of Huberman’s position among 20th-century violin-players. The creative force of his musical personality may have been divisive, but his energy in establishing what would become the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra lies beyond dispute.
If Heifetz and even Milstein have been criticized as anachronistic interpreters of Bach’s works for solo violin, how much more so would be Huberman’s highly individualistic manner, with almost crushing accents in the Sarabande (if not in the Double) from the First Partita, which pervade as well the accompanying figures of the Second Sonata’s Andante (a duo for a single violin)—although a second hearing should allow listeners to discern the thoughtful overarching dynamic patterns. Huberman’s passionately throaty but slowly paced reading of Bach’s “Air on the G String,” a 19th-century arrangement of music from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, makes its case more easily on the surface, perhaps because of the congeniality of Huberman’s style with that of the arrangement: his scooping portamentos belong to the period (he achieves the same harmonious interpretive effect in Bruch’s Kol Nidrei). Even more idiomatic, his lilting reading of Chopin’s Waltz carries the listener along; the culture to which he belonged as much as his strong communicative individuality puts the miniature across. But his freedom and abandon certainly make their contribution, as they do to his throbbing reading of the same composer’s Nocturne. If his accents could sound rough, he plays Wilhelmj’s arrangement of Schubert’s Ave Maria with delicate reverence if not with chaste purity, and his expressive breaking of an octave and his zesty dotted double-stops in the second section individualize his reading more than any self-conscious sensibility would allow. There follows a more leaden reading of Brahms’s Waltz (remember that he played Brahms’s Concerto for the composer himself and that Brahms had been sufficiently impressed by him to promise a Fantasy), with its tempo too plodding and its double stops pressed a bit too firmly into the string for comfort. He is more imposing in Brahms’s Hungarian Dance and in Zarzycki’s Mazurka, the latter work a favorite Oistrakh encore that Huberman projects equally convincingly, playing, especially its penultimate passages, with more teasing playfulness. Sarasate’s Romanza andaluza could focus debate: slow, ardent (virtuosic in some spots, though heavy-handed in others), and rich in tone, it contrasts strongly with Sarasate’s own exhilarating lightness of being.
I’ve seen photos of Huberman as a child prodigy, with a very low right elbow and later ones with it raised higher. Nevertheless, his playing itself, if not his manner of expression, gives the sense of belonging to times gone by. As with Szigeti, it seems there’s a very vibrant, very important violinist trapped by his technique. Opus Kura’s transfers preserve lots of the 78s’ surface noise, but they adequately preserve the core of his tone, as well. Historians of the violin will find the collection indispensable, especially since so little of this repertoire has been made available (most Huberman collections comprise concertos and sonatas). General listeners may find the program’s brevity (Huberman recorded other short pieces) a greater stumbling block than any stylistic anachronisms. Heartily recommended, though, to its special audiences.
Partita for Violin solo no 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: 5th movement, Sarabandeby Johann Sebastian Bach Performer:
Bronislaw Huberman (Violin)
Period: Baroque Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany Date of Recording: 1934 Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Partita for Violin solo no 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: 6th movement, Double." This selection is a mono recording.
Partita for Violin solo no 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: 6th movement, Doubleby Johann Sebastian Bach Performer:
Bronislaw Huberman (Violin)
Period: Baroque Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany Date of Recording: 1934 Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Partita for Violin solo no 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: 5th movement, Sarabande." This selection is a mono recording.