Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concerto in D.
Symphony No. 2
Eugene Ormandy, cond; Zino Francescatti (vn);
BIDDULPH 80225, mono (74:19)
That this is a monaural recording can only be determined from reading the jewel case insert for recording dates and for an indirect statement of monaural provenance. You can easily be misled because arkivmusic.com lists the disc incorrectly as stereo. The
sound quality, however, is so good, especially in the Violin Concerto, that whether mono or stereo is essentially immaterial. And the performances are so superb that it matters even less.
Francescatti, Ormandy, and the Philadelphia players are at their best in this 1956 recording of the Brahms Concerto. Francescatti’s rich tone, impeccable technique, and understanding of Brahms, coupled with Ormandy’s intelligent reading and the orchestra’s smooth woodwinds and silken strings, make this a winner all around. Orchestral details are so discernable that Brahms’s thick textures offer no resistance to the ear. The opening bassoons, violas, and cellos in the first movement are smooth as velvet, and Francescatti’s
entry is commanding. Throughout the movement, the orchestral part-writing is made crystal clear by Ormandy as Francescatti continues his riveting performance. The oboe solo that opens the second movement has an ethereal purity, and the brief appearance of the solo horn at bars 35 and 80 is made suitably clear. Francescatti makes the transition from F to F?-Minor (beginning at bar 52) and the later return to F a beautiful contrast in mood. The final movement
brings the concerto to a sparkling conclusion at Francescatti’s bow and Ormandy’s baton.
The Second Symphony was recorded in 1953, and those three years make a noticeable difference in sound quality. The sound is still very good, except for an edgy string sound in the loud passages and some surface noise creeping in at the end of the second movement. The first movement is played with dispatch and clarity, especially in the flute, clarinet, and horn passages. The exposition repeat is not observed. The second movement has a beautiful singing quality. Especially notable are the horns. The oboes in the third movement are especially striking, and the
of the last movement brings the symphony to a brisk conclusion.
As to the Violin Concerto, no matter how many recordings you may own—whether Heifetz and Reiner, Oistrakh and Klemperer, Perlman and Giulini, each of which reaches the highest levels of achievement in its unique way, or whether other pairings—the Francescatti and Ormandy is one that should not be absent from any collection. With the Violin Concerto comes a Second Symphony that competes well with those of Walter, Klemperer, and Solti. Obviously, I recommend this disc very highly, but it’s old material, so many readers may already own it in other formats. If they do, they should still buy this disc to give as a gift.
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Written: 1878; Austria
Date of Recording: 03/11/1956
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Written: 1877; Austria
Date of Recording: 02/15/1953
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