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Zino Francescatti Plays Favourite Violin Pieces


Release Date: 08/12/2008 
Label:  Biddulph   Catalog #: 80224  
Composer:  Tommaso Antonio VitaliFritz KreislerJules MassenetEmmanuel Chabrier,   ... 
Performer:  Artur BalsamZino Francescatti
Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Some charismatic short performances enshrined in this very welcome disc.

Biddulph continues its exploration of Francescatti’s legacy with this miscellaneous recital, a large part of which derives from a Balsam-accompanied Columbia LP recorded in January 1951. The rest form entertaining and valuable satellite performances.

The disc gets underway with the Vitali Chaconne, heard in its then accustomed guise in the arrangement by Leopold Charlier. This is warmed by the violinist’s characteristically sweet tone and fast vibrato. It’s also aided in no small measure by Balsam’s assertive pianism and by his having been well balanced. The French violinist plays with captivating brilliance albeit one or two corners
Read more are turned with just a shade too much calculation. There is a sequence of pieces by Kreisler. Strangely the Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani receives a poor reading. The opening is too militarily foursquare to let the majestic theme emerge naturally and the contrasts are thereby exaggerated. It lacks nobility, grandeur and cumulative force. If Elgar should have recorded his own Introduction and Allegro – and famously he didn’t – then Kreisler should have recorded not only Elgar’s Concerto but Kreisler’s own Praeludium as well. I’ve never known why it slipped through his recording net. The “W F Bach” Grave is much better; Francescatti sounds far more at home here, especially with regard to tempo and vibrato usage and dynamics. Balsam is once more valuably assertive in the Allegretto where we find Francescatti is at his most spruce and urbane.

Massenet’s Meditation finds him in lofty, patrician form whereas he turns on the vibrato for the Chabrier-Dushkin. There’s real verve in the Poulenc-Heifetz Presto though I think the following Villa-Lobos is more reflective of his greatest gifts – evocative, lambent playing with its rippling piano undercurrent. He essays the Londonderry Air as well. Most post-War performances are slower than their pre-War counterparts; Kreisler and Sammons took it relatively quickly, but Francescatti basks in its warmth, his flecking vibrato giving it a chaste ardour, at least until his weird E string harmonics episode toward the end which almost ruins it. The Paganini Variations find him on home turf – his Paganini was famed and his own Paganinian lineage, via his father’s studies with Sivori, exemplary. His Ravel is warm, again just a touch urbane, not exaggerated. And then there’s the Odd Man Out; the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with Ormandy and the Philadelphia, the orchestral interlopers in an otherwise all-Balsam accompanied disc.

Some of the sides could do with a treble boost, and as ever there are minimal discographic details from Biddulph; house style predominates over valuable, necessary matters I’m afraid. Still, some charismatic short performances are enshrined in this nevertheless very welcome disc.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Chaconne in G minor by Tommaso Antonio Vitali
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Notes: Arrangement: Leopold Charlier  
2.
Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin), Artur Balsam (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
3.
Grave in the style of WF Bach by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin), Artur Balsam (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
4.
Menuet in the style of Porpora by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin), Artur Balsam (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
5.
Allegretto in the style of Boccherini by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin), Artur Balsam (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
6.
Thaïs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
7.
Joyeuse marche "Marche française" by Emmanuel Chabrier
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Notes: Arrangement: Samuel Dushkin 
8.
Presto for Piano in B flat major by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Notes: Arrangement: Jascha Heifetz 
9.
O canto do cisne negro, W 122 by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Brazil 
10.
Ao pé da Foqueira by Julián Aguirre
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
11.
Londonderry Air by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
12.
Variations for Violin and Orchestra on "Carnival of Venice", Op. 10 by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829 
13.
Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
14.
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 

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