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Mozart, Schubert, Dvorák / Lionel Tetris


Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Biddulph   Catalog #: 80219   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz SchubertAntonín DvorákThomas Dunhill,   ... 
Performer:  Lionel TertisAlbert SammonsEthel HobdayFrank St. Leger,   ... 
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 4 Hours 42 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This seals it for the Tertis collector. I’d been wondering aloud in reviews when someone would get to grips with his acoustic Vocalions and here they are. This, allied to the complete electrics, also on Biddulph, and John White’s imminent book means that times have never been better for admirers of the pioneering British violist.

These are some of the earliest examples of a comprehensive body of chamber music, recorded by established forces. The trios are performed by two thirds of the Chamber Music Players trio. The pianist here is Frank St. Leger, later a supremo at the Met in New York, but here a versatile collaborator at the keyboard. Tertis and Sammons’s usual colleague, William Murdoch, didn’t join his string colleagues
Read more when they signed for Vocalion, remaining loyal to Columbia instead. And the trios are all subject to the usual abridgments as was the inevitable corollary of acoustic recording – and we shouldn’t be so censorious of this when, even today, I see that Bowen’s Viola Concerto, a work dedicated to and first performed by Tertis himself, has just been recorded badly cut.

The Mozart trios, obviously in Tertis’s own viola transcriptions, are notable for Sammons’s singing lyricism and masculine expression and for the well-established balance between the two three. St. Leger is more the classicist anchoring the two romanticists. Portamenti are lavish and pervasive, vibrati well matched, the pungent wit of the finale of K542 – a work they were to return to electrically – charmingly realised. Their Schubert is songfully lyric, what remains of it that is, even though naturally things such as the slow movement can’t help but feel rushed. The Dvo?ák Bagatelles offer some unusual repertoire for the time; still more so the drastically cut Dunhill trio. This was something Tertis had premiered with Marjorie Hayward and the composer in 1912 so this 1920 recording, whilst naturally representing only a partial view of it, does still show two things – firstly the kind of repertoire Tertis proselytised and secondly the adventurous spirit of Vocalion, when it was in the mood. No other company dared to essay the Quartets of Elgar, Kreisler and Waldo Warner at around this time, all entrusted to the London String Quartet and all duly issued by Vocalion.

The second CD gives us a good mix of sonatas, duos and obbligato work. The Handel-Halvorsen prefigures the later Columbia electric that Sammons and Tertis made, the most heroic solo violin-viola record ever made. This one is cut and features some hilarious tempo doubling. Fans of the two string players may recall the incident when they played together at a wartime soiree in front of such illustrious guests as Ivor Novello and Somerset Maugham. As the bombs fell in the distance Sammons and Tertis ignored all expression marks, played all repeats, and at triple forte, until the bombing raid passed. We have outstanding tonal blend between the two in the Fuchs duet, and grand expression in the Handel.

The Grieg Sonata was one of many that Tertis transcribed. Here the pianist is Ethel Hobday, wife of the gifted Alfred Hobday, Tertis’s great predecessor as holder of the title of Britain’s leading violist. Ethel Hobday was also Sammons’s mother in law, he having married the formidable Olive. Rugged but expressive and with room for dynamic variance this is an important document of Tertis’s playing. Yes, the registral change in the finale always strikes me as deeply unconvincing, but this is bold, manly, moustache-bristling playing, excellently anchored by Hobday, an elite player. Their Brahms Sonata is no less so and actually preferable to Tertis’s later electric recording with the uneven Harriet Cohen. The massively declamatory finale is perhaps the high point, even more so than the inward cultivation of the sonata’s expressive heart. The second disc ends with what are the most difficult to find of Tertis’s Vocalions, the obbligato sides he made with Zoia Rosovsky. She had a certain cachet at the time though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone now who knows the name. Together they made three sides. Even Biddulph has apparently been sent a dub of Leroux’s Le Nil, so tricky is it to trace. She has a big mezzo tinge and is most convincing in the Duparc. Tertis is well balanced against the voice, thankfully.

Discs three and four give us encore and solo fodder and some of Tertis’s most dashing performances. Some he was later to remake – like the Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro, still surely one of the most gallant and stunning viola discs on record – whilst others remain only in these acoustic discs. The constantly alive vibrato is ever evident, the rich portamenti too. His Fauré Elegie has a Casals-like nobility, though as ever his Après un rêve is too loud and unvaried. One of my favourites is his recording of his friend Kreisler’s Chanson Louis XIII with its gracefulness and charm. Smaller things such as the Thomé Sous la feuillee are done with passionate commitment though the Mendelssohn Songs without Words have a wonderfully burnished simplicity. All of these sides deserve repeated rehearing; they all offer revelatory experiences.

The booklet features a well-produced picture of a Vocalion record label, a less well produced one of Sammons, a regrettably fuzzy and unreadable reproduction of a full page advertisement from Musical America, and a photograph of a Royal Academy of Music Sight-Singing Prize awarded to Tertis, which I think I saw advertised on eBay not so long ago.

There is full discographic information and interesting, if I think in the main somewhat speculative, recording dates. I’m not sure that, in the absence of the recording ledgers (which are lost), one can date them with this degree of accuracy but the dates do seem plausible to me. A small discographic point; Tertis always claimed that one of his own favourites among his recordings was Kreisler’s La Chasse. Checking an on-line discography of the violist – I noticed that this was issued in two takes recorded under the same issue number, a common enough practice, but that the sessions were separated by as much as a year, something I’d never been aware of. For those of a collecting bent it’s heard here in the more commonly encountered take, 02112.

And so to the transfers. I wasn’t so pleased with David Hermann’s work on the complete Columbias for Biddulph. Here he’s had a trickier job. But I still remain unconvinced. Listening to my 78s – I have all these recordings bar the three Rosovsky sides – I find that whilst the notorious Vocalion scratch has been well attended to the upper frequencies are once again the direct casualty. This compresses the sound. There is audible room ambience in these Vocalions when listened to through sympathetic playback but none comes through on these transfers. There is more ambience and timbral variety in these discs than you will find in these transfers of them.

Still, I don’t want to end carping. Less than ideal though they may be, you will still find a huge amount to admire in the performances. And Biddulph’s commitment to restoring all Tertis’s commercial discs to the catalogue has been immense. To them goes the credit. Should they come across other scraps of Tertis’s playing we would be in their debt if they released a supplementary volume. There’s a live broadcast of Walthew’s Mosaics doing the rounds. There may be an as yet unidentified Tertis cylinder – he said he made one. I’d wager it was on Clarion or Sterling but who knows? Then there’s the Bach Double Concerto that he and Sammons recorded in Tertis’s own arrangement for violin and viola; it was never released by Vocalion and the company went on to record d’Aranyi and Fachiri in the authentic version. Until then this set remains a cornerstone collection.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 3 in E major, K 542 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Albert Sammons (Violin), Ethel Hobday (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
2.
Keyboard Trio No. 6 in G, K564 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Written: 1788 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
3.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in B flat major, D 898/Op. 99 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1828; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
4.
Bagatelles for 2 Violins, Cello and Harmonium, Op. 47/B 79 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
5.
Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano in E flat major, K 498 "Kegelstatt" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
6.
Phantasy for Violin, Viola and Piano in Eb by Thomas Dunhill
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; England 
Notes: 1919 - 1924 
7.
Passacaglia and Sarabande with Variations in G minor after Handel by Johan Halvorsen
Performer:  Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Norway 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
8.
Duet by Georg-Friedrich Fuchs
Performer:  Albert Sammons (Violin), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Classical 
Written: France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
9.
Duettini, Op. 18 by Benjamin Godard
Performer:  Frederick B Kiddle (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
10.
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo in G minor, HWV 393/Op. 2 no 8 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Frederick B Kiddle (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; London, England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
11.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 45 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1887; Norway 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
12.
Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 120 no 1 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
13.
Songs (6), Op. 6: no 6, None but the lonely heart by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Zoia Rosovsky (Soprano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Russia 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
14.
Extase by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Zoia Rosovsky (Soprano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924
Composition written: France (1874).
Composition revised: France (?1884). 
15.
Le nil by Xavier Leroux
Performer:  Zoia Rosovsky (Soprano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Paris, France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
16.
Vielles danses françaises (5): no 5, Le Basque by Marin Marais
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Paris, France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
17.
Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
18.
La chasse in the style of Cartier by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
19.
Chanson Louis XIII in the style of Couperin by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
20.
La Précieuse in the style of Couperin by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
21.
Rondino on a theme by Beethoven by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
22.
Tambourin chinois, Op. 3 by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
23.
Suite for Orchestra no 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
24.
Ellens Gesang III, D 839/Op. 52 no 6 "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
25.
Songs without words, vol 1, Op. 19b: no 1, Andante con moto in E major "Sweet Remembrance" by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
26.
Songs without words, vol 4, Op. 53: no 2, Allegro non troppo in E flat major by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
27.
Songs without words, vol 5, Op. 62: no 6, Andante grazioso in A major "Spring Song" by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
28.
Songs (6), Op. 34: no 2, Auf Flügeln des Gesanges by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
29.
Sonatas (3) for Piano, Op. 118 "für die Jugend": Schlummerlied by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
30.
Sonatas (3) for Piano, Op. 118 "für die Jugend": Abendlied by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
31.
Liebesträume for Piano, S 541: no 3, O Lieb, so lang by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1850; Weimar, Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
32.
Morceaux (12) for Piano, Op. 40: no 2, Chanson triste by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
33.
Morceaux (12) for Piano, Op. 40: no 6, Chant sans paroles by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
34.
Les saisons, Op. 37b: no 6, Juin "Barcarolle" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924
Composition written: Russia (1875 - 1876). 
35.
Melody by Anton Rubinstein
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
36.
Heart's melodies, Op. 5: no 3, I love thee by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863-1864; Norway 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
37.
L'arlésienne: Suite no 1 - 3rd movement, Adagietto by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
38.
Jocelyn, Op. 100: Ah! ne t'éveille pas encor "Berceuse" by Benjamin Godard
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
39.
Berceuse for Violin and Piano in B flat major, Op. 38 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
40.
Sous la feuille by Francis Thomé
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
41.
Ręve d'amour, Op. 5 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1862; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
42.
Elégie for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
43.
Reverie by Giacomo D'Ambrosio
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; Italy 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
44.
Petit Suite by Giacomo D'Ambrosio
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; Italy 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
45.
Elegie by Alfreds Kalnins
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
46.
Reverie by Lionel Tertis
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
47.
Sunset by Lionel Tertis
Performer:  Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
48.
Samoan Lullaby by Tod Boyd
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola), Ethel Hobday (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
49.
Suite for Viola and Piano in D minor, Op. 2: 2nd movement, Romance by Benjamin Dale
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
50.
Breath o' June by John McEwen
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1913; London, England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
51.
Preludes (4) for Piano: no 3, The Holy Boy by John Ireland
Performer:  Frank St. Leger (Piano), Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 
52.
Danny Boy "Londonderry Air" by Traditional
Performer:  Ethel Hobday (Piano), Lionel Tertis (Viola), Frank St. Leger (Piano)
Written: Ireland 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
1919 - 1924 

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