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Henry Merckel - Historical Recordings 1930-1935


Release Date: 03/28/2006 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1178   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Camille Saint-SaënsEdouard Lalo
Performer:  Henri Merckel
Conductor:  Piero Coppola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SAINT-SAËNS Violin Concerto No. 3. Danse macabre. LALO Symphonie espagnole. Concerto russe: Intermezzo ? Henry Merckel (vn); Piero Coppola, cond; Paseloup Concert Assn O ? MUSIC & ARTS CD-1178, mono (68:35)


In its tribute to violinist Henry Merckel (1897?1969), Music & Arts has gathered together recordings of longer French works for violin and orchestra as well as a short Read more piece and single concerto movement. Merckel, a sort of prodigy according to Jean-Michel Molkhou?s notes, pursued a career as soloist but maintained positions in French orchestras, eventually becoming longtime concertmaster at the Paris Opera. Having been trained in France before WW I and having served there for so long, he might be expected to be representative of a French school of violin-playing; and while his sound may be sparer than Jacques Thibaud?s, his manner really does almost ideally suit Saint-Saëns?s Concerto, which he plays with Francescatti?s clarity but also with a modicum of Grumiaux?s atmospheric warmth and even a suggestion?especially in his leisurely way with portamentos?of Thibaud-like opulence.


The recorded sound, restored by Philippe Deveraux, presents his reedy, soaring tone in striking profile; although the orchestral part may not come through with the depth and clarity of a more modern recording, a listener might easily obtain the impression from it that Merckel sounds much as he must have sounded live: a quite surprising suggestion in view of the performance?s date of June 27, 1935. In general, he seems able to extend the strength of his Gagliano?s middle two strings to the top of the upper string. He recorded Lalo?s Symphonie espagnole (intact, with all five movements) on February 15 and 16, 1932; but despite the differences in the dates of the recordings, the same strength suggests itself, in addition to a somewhat greater warmth and resonance on the lowest string (again, faithfully conveyed by the older technology). Still, his tone never really waxes seductive or even entirely ingratiating in itself (although it comes close in the Intermezzo of Lalo?s Symphonie ): if he didn?t employ it so seductively, it might even seem somewhat abrasive. The warmth lies, then, in the manner rather than in the matter. Except for several very slight lapses during which he very, very briefly seems to have lost control of tone production, he remains technically confident throughout, though hardly a razor-sharp virtuoso or a showman given to effects for their own sake. Perhaps his individuality had been encumbered by years wearing the orchestral yoke. His rhythmic control in Lalo?s Spanish pastiche never really relaxes sufficiently for him to be caught up in?or create?a zesty, indulgent moment. Yet he plays brilliantly, if not beguilingly, in the rondo. Merckel recorded the Intermezzo from Lalo?s Concerto russe on June 27, 1935 (the same day as Saint-Saëns?s Concerto). As in the recording of Saint-Saëns?s work, the violin sounds very far forward and leaves the same impression of strength. The recording of Saint-Saëns?s Danse macabre turns out to be the earliest, from April 4, 1930. In this work, the engineers have allowed the orchestral part to blossom, while still paying the attention due to the quasi-soloist. The composer made his own arrangement of the piece for violin and piano, and those desiring to hear the fireworks suggested by the orchestral version should turn to it. The recordings from 1935 suffer the least from noise; this early one, the most.


If Russian violinists dominated the period between the two world wars, reaching their primes almost exactly at this time, others retained a clear individuality: Flesch?s students and Hubay?s come immediately to mind. But Henry Merckel spoke cogently as well, exuding the atmosphere of his time and place. As a historic testament and material ideally suited to study, his recordings, in surprisingly revealing recorded sound, deserve to be heard. Recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 3 in B minor, Op. 61 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Henri Merckel (Violin)
Conductor:  Piero Coppola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Date of Recording: 06/27/1935 
Length: 25 Minutes 19 Secs. 
2.
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21 by Edouard Lalo
Performer:  Henri Merckel (Violin)
Conductor:  Piero Coppola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; France 
Length: 31 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: 02/15/1932 - 02/16/1932 
3.
Concerto russe, Op. 29: 3rd movement, Intermezzo by Edouard Lalo
Performer:  Henri Merckel (Violin)
Conductor:  Piero Coppola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; France 
Date of Recording: 06/27/1935 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
4.
Danse macabre in G minor, Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Henri Merckel (Violin)
Conductor:  Piero Coppola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 
Date of Recording: 04/04/1930 
Length: 7 Minutes 0 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61: I. Allegro non troppo
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61: II. Andantino quasi allegretto
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61: III. Molto moderato e maestoso - Allegro non troppo
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: I. Allegro non troppo
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: II. Scherzando: Allegro molto
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: III. Intermezzo: Allegretto non troppo
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: IV. Andante
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: V. Rondo: Allegro
Concerto russe, Op. 29: III. Intermezzo
Danse macabre, Op. 40: Danse Macabre, Op. 40

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