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Zino Francescatti Vol 3 - Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Kreisler


Release Date: 11/11/2008 
Label:  Doremi Records   Catalog #: 7888   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyMax BruchFritz Kreisler
Performer:  Samuel MayesZino Francescatti
Conductor:  Charles MunchDonald Voorhees
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony OrchestraBell Telephone Hour Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ZINO FRANCESCATTI, VOLUME 3 Zino Francescatti (vn); Samuel Mayes (vc); 2 Charles Munch, cond; 1,2 Boston SO; 1,2 Donald Voorhees, cond; 3 Bell Telephone Hour O 3 DOREMI 7888, mono (79:50) Live: Boston 7/28/1958; 1 4/14/56. Read more class="SUPER12">2 Broadcast: New York 4/28/52 3


TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto. 1 BRAHMS Concerto in a, “Double.” 2 BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1: Allegro energico. 3 TRAD (arr. Kreisler) Londonderry Air. 3 KREISLER Schön Rosmarin 3


Zino Francescatti, one of the “best” violinists identified in a music column in Time magazine on February 2, 1962, may be the least well represented in the catalog of all violinists in the group (Heifetz, Milstein, Stern, Oistrakh, and Francescatti). The story goes that Columbia increasingly relied on the irrepressible Stern as its answer to RCA’s more reserved Heifetz. But, as with Milstein, it might take a listener a few passages to identify Stern, while the dashing Francescatti, the dapper Heifetz, and the glowing Oistrakh made themselves fully present in (almost) every note. Considering the relatively small catalog of his studio recordings, Francescatti’s live performances, which have begun to appear, should be especially welcome.


Besides the two recordings for Columbia of the Tchaikovsky Concerto (Columbia ML 4965, recorded on March 27, 1954, with Mitropoulos and Columbia ML 6158 and MS 6758—re-released on Sony 78760, which I reviewed in 30:3—recorded in stereo with Schippers on February 2, 1965—there’s that violinistically ubiquitous February 2 again, which also just happens to be Kreisler’s and Heifetz’s birthday), Music & Arts has released two live performances: a broadcast with Rodzinski from October 24, 1943, on 1118 (26: 6) and a performance with Paul Kletzki from May 5, 1970, on 1171 (30:1). Francescatti’s reading with Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from July 27, 1958, begins with an obtrusive rumble at the beginning of the first movement and ends with thunderous applause at the end of the first and third movements. The recorded sound restored by DOREMI may be dull and tubby, but Francescatti’s edgy lyricism glows through, not only in the first-movement cadenza’s technical passages, to which he brought a strongly individual identity (though not Auer’s double-stops, which he’d add later), but especially in his highly personal way with the Canzonetta (which I also noted in my review of the 1965 studio reading) and in the Finale’s ardent interludes. And those, like Henry Roth, who don’t consider Francescatti’s readings of the Concerto sufficiently propulsive should listen to the closing passages of the last movement in partnership with Munch. (Even inattentive listeners will note the curious, though not perhaps egregious, slip that occurs at 7:47 in the technical passagework.)


Francescatti recorded Brahms’s “Double” Concerto for Columbia with Fournier on November 20, 1959, in stereo, and that performance set a very high standard. DOREMI’s live performance, from three years earlier, with Samuel Mayes, who then served as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist, received a recording that, if somewhat thinner, highlighted the upper frequencies more fully than did that of the Tchaikovsky Concerto two years later. If Mayes didn’t project as clearly individual a personality as would Fournier (who also recorded the Concerto with Oistrakh, in 1956), his sound remained rich and attractive, though it lacks Francescatti’s strong characterization. Still, the first movement’s chunky rhythmic passagework is sharply tooled; and the movement periodically settles into periods of hushed calm, though Munch doesn’t seem inclined to linger in the big orchestral tuttis. Francescatti’s eloquence almost seems to carry the slow movement, as perhaps his energy does the finale.


DOREMI’s compilation includes performances from the Bell Telephone Hour from April 28, 1952, of the finale of Bruch’s First Concerto and two Kreisler chestnuts. Francescatti had recorded these latter short pieces with piano (Artur Balsam), but, as did Heifetz in these concerts, played his short pieces with orchestra (Kreisler had arranged some of his own pieces for violin and orchestra, including Schön Rosmarin ). Francescatti plays the Londonderry Air with an extra dollop of sentiment, if not sentimentality, beyond that with which he had endowed his performance with piano; and he plays Schön Rosmarin with a style that, if it doesn’t sound like Kreisler, does Kreisler’s composition full justice. The engineers placed Francescatti in the foreground, with the orchestra far behind.


DOREMI’s notes suggest that Francescatti, alone among the century’s major violinists, had been trained only by his parents (dipping just a bit lower, Alfredo Campoli received similar training); and Francescatti’s personal way with his chosen repertoire may have emanated from this special brand of hot-housing. But whatever produced it, it’s worth hearing, not only in studio recordings (Francescatti once suggested that he could be heard best in his recordings, by which I suppose he meant the studio ones), but in live ones like these. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 "Double" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Samuel Mayes (Cello), Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Austria 
2.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
3.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in G minor, Op. 26 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Germany 
4.
Schön Rosmarin by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
5.
Londonderry Air by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Zino Francescatti (Violin)
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 

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