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Michael Rabin 1936-1972


Release Date: 10/04/2005 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 64123   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Niccolò PaganiniHenri WieniawskiPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyFelix Mendelssohn,   ... 
Performer:  Michael RabinLeon Pommers
Conductor:  Lovro von MatacicSir Eugene GoossensSir Adrian BoultAlceo Galliera,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraHollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 7 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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Magisterial — Rabin's recording of the Wieniawski First Concerto inspired Mischa Elman to remark that that's the way the violin should be played.

In 1947, Ruggiero Ricci became the first to scale Paganini's slippery precipice by recording all 24 Caprices... But if they began to seem like his own, that proprietorship was soon challenged by the young Michael Rabin... Few followed him; later violinists instead revealed, as Rabin had done, more of Paganini's expressive quicksilver (Perlman's performances on LP, digitally remastered in 2000 for EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" series—EMI 7243 5 67257 2 0—sound, at the same time warmer and grittier, partly on account of more
Read more resonant recorded sound, but they don't generate Rabin's voltage in, for example, the Third Caprice; by comparison with Rabin's, even Accardo's celebrated reading, available on Deutsche Grammophon 429 714-2, seems lamentably earthbound, though undeniably lyrical and convincing on its own terms)... Rabin had established a landmark, one that has remained undated and undiminished to this day except in recorded sound. But now, EMI..., has turned its attention to Rabin's caprices. The jewelbox proclaims the "first release on compact disc of original master tapes"; in fact, the 1958 issue sounds several generations younger. Some of the dryness and flatness that David K. Nelson noticed in the original CD issue in EMI's Michael Rabin, 1936-1972 (CMS 7 64123 2 A; 15:5) has been replaced by an added dimensionality that listeners to previous incarnations would hardly have suspected (Rabin's Caprices also appeared as EMI CDM-64560, supposedly in stereo, in 1993, but the recorded sound didn't approach the new remastering's fidelity). The effect is downright visceral, like having Rabin himself in the room. Few recordings more richly deserve a drink at the fountain of youth. And there's more magisterial Rabin, already available in EMI's six-disc set, notably the Wieniawski First Concerto, which inspired Elman to remark that that's the way the violin should be played, and a stunning Paganini Concerto that would make perfect candidates for a face-lift. But if I had chosen any of Rabin's recordings for an afterlife, they would be just the ones EMI has remastered, particularly the Caprices. One of the greatest violin recordings of all time has just grown a few inches in stature. Absolutely essential.

-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE [7/2001]
reviewing the Paganini Caprices, previously released as EMI 67462


Magnificent, but tragic. Michael Rabin was born in 1936 and died, possibly addled by drugs, in a fall in 1972. A short life, but his artistic career was even shorter, as he was essentially inactive for his last decade. The recordings with piano are in stereo and date from 1959; EMI has taken that Capitol recital disc, kept the title and cover art, and added monaural unaccompanied Bach andYsaýe from 1955. The playing is stunning; Rabin was Ivan Galamian's star pupil: Purely as display of brilliant technique, rich tone, and fierce, crushing virtuosity, it is hard to think of a subsequent talent who had quiet this combination of talents, and to quite this degree. The catapulting drive and verve and sheer crunch of the showpieces, such as the Wieniawski, Sarasate, Suk, and Szigeti 's mind-boggling transcription of the Scriabin (maybe the toughest encore piece in the literature) exist at a level all their own. The beautiful tone and polished control in the quieter, more songful works by Engel (a simple but gorgeous and, I find, addicting, song transcription), Debussy, Ravel, and Chopin are impressive, but one senses that true repose, while easily within his grasp, was not in Rabin's inner nature.

As I remarked when reviewing Electrola/EMI's multidisc set of Rabin's complete Capitol/EMI recordings (Fanfare 15:5; Rabin recorded for Columbia as a child prodigy), one senses in the young Rabin an unendingly enthusiastic but knowing imitator, now of Heifetz, now of Francescatti, now of Milstein (his Heifetz was better than his Milstein). The one personal and distinctive feature of his music-making was the wolfish animality of it, and while he had a good grasp of larger forms—he played major concertos by Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and Glazunov brilliantly—it is no surprise that the quiet pleasures of chamber music and sonatas did not appear to loom large in his repertoire. The solo Bach, smoothly legato, is awesomely executed but interpretively generic. The two Ysaÿe sonatas were more congenial to Rabin's natural style, and they and the concertos point to the directions Rabin was going to have to travel if he was to grow as an artist beyond carnal sensuality. We probably do not want to know what the demons were that curtailed this career and life. Purely as artifacts of that life these are among the most splendidly played of violin recordings, from a violinist who always sought to win his musical bouts with the clean knockout punch rather than on finesse. Those items with piano, very closely micophoned, were stuffy and among the worst-sounding things in that Electrola/EMI set; these are new transfers that sound much clearer.

-- David K. Nelson, FANFARE
reviewing Rabin's recordings with Leon Pommer, also available as a single disc, EMI 67020

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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in D major, Op. 6 by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1817 
2.
Concerto for Violin no 2 in D minor, Op. 22 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Date of Recording: 05/15/1960 
3.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 14 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Russia 
Notes: 01/03/1957 - 01/04/1957 
4.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
5.
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Notes: 01/02/1957 - 01/04/1957 
6.
Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 46 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Liverpool, England 
Date of Recording: 01/04/1957 
7.
Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 82 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
Date of Recording: 12/17/1954 
8.
Caprices (24) for Violin solo, Op. 1 by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1805; Italy 
Notes: 09/05/1958 - 09/09/1958 
9.
Sonata for Violin solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1005 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
10.
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 4 in E minor by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
11.
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 3 in D minor "Ballade" by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
12.
Etudes-Caprices (8) for 2 Violins, Op. 18: no 4 in A minor by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Date of Recording: 03/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Fritz Kreisler. 
13.
La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Léon Roques. 
14.
Pièce en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
15.
Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Date of Recording: 01/01/1957 
16.
Thaïs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
17.
Caprice viennois, Op. 2 by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
18.
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
19.
Havanaise for Violin and Orchestra in E major, Op. 83 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
Date of Recording: 06/12/1956 
20.
Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 23: no 2, Zapateado by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Date of Recording: 03/1959 
21.
Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 21: no 2, Habañera by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Date of Recording: 03/1959 
22.
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
23.
Hora staccato by Grigoras Dinicu
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Romania 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Jascha Heifetz. 
24.
Moto perpetuo for Violin and Orchestra in C major, Op. 11 by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Fritz Kreisler. 
25.
La capricieuse, Op. 17 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1959 
26.
Old refrain by Johann Evangelist Brandl
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Fritz Kreisler. 
27.
Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 - Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
Date of Recording: 09/1959 
28.
Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27: no 2 in D flat major, B 96 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
Notes: Arranger: August Wilhelmj. 
29.
Scènes d'enfants: Jeunes filles au jardin by Federico Mompou
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1918; Spain 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Joseph Szigeti. 
30.
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 8: no 10 in D flat major by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1894; Russia 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Joseph Szigeti. 
31.
Sea-Shell by Carl Engel
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Date of Recording: 04/1949 
Notes: Arranger: Efrem Zimbalist. 
32.
Love for Three Oranges: March, Op. 33b no 1 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 
Notes: Arranger: Jascha Heifetz. 
33.
Pieces (4) for Violin and Piano, Op. 17: no 4, Burlesca by Josef Suk
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 04/1959 

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