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Michael Rabin - Studio Recordings 1954-1960

Rabin,Michael
Release Date: 12/13/2011 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1471   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  NiccolÚ PaganiniAlexander GlazunovCamille Saint-SaŽnsFelix Mendelssohn,   ... 
Performer:  Michael RabinLeon Pommers
Conductor:  Sir Eugene GoossensLovro von MatacicAlceo GallieraFelix Slatkin,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 7 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MICHAEL RABIN: THE STUDIO RECORDINGS 1954Ė1960 ē Michael Rabin (vn); Lovro von Mata?i?, Alceo Galliera, Adrian Boult, Eugene Goossens, cond; Philharmonia O; Felix Slatkin, cond; Hollywood Bowl SO; Leon Pommers (pn) ē TESTAMENT 1471 (6 CDs: 438:15)


MICHAEL RABIN: YOUNG GENIUS OF THE VIOLIN ē Michael Rabin (vn); Lovro von Mata?i?, Alceo Galliera, Adrian Boult, Eugene Goossens, cond; Philharmonia O; Felix Slatkin, cond; Hollywood Bowl SO; Leon Pommers (pn) Read more ē EMI 50999 6 79060 2 4 (6 CDs: 434:11)


PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 (2 versions). 24 Caprices. Moto perpetuo. GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto. SAINT-SAËNS Havanaise. Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (2 versions). TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto. MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto. RAVEL Tzigane. Pièce en forme díHabanera. WEINIAWSKI Violin Concertos: No. 1; No. 2. Étude-Caprice, op. 18/4. BRUCH Scottish Fantasy. BACH Solo Violin Sonata No. 3. YSAüE Solo Violin Sonatas: No. 3; No. 4. DEBUSSY La Plus que lente. CHOPIN Nocturne, op. 27/8. MOMPOU Jeune filles au jardin. SCRIABIN Étude in thirds, op. 8/10. SARASATE Habanera. Zapateado. Zigeunerweisen. ELGAR La Capriceiuse. ENGEL Sea-shell. PROKOFIEV Love for 3 Oranges: March. SUK Burleska. MASSENET Thaïs: Méditation. KREISLER Caprice viennois. DINICU Hora staccato. BRANDL The Old Refrain. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Flight of the Bumblebee


Why such a long headnote? First of all, because the two almost simultaneous releases of legendary violinist Michael Rabinís studio recordings for EMI and Capitol comprise the same material (so itís two for one), and secondly, because those who honor the violin and its heroes probably havenít read even this far without ordering their copies (hardcore aficionados, likely both sets, just to be sure). Did I say releases? EMI also released the same items, on a six-CD set, on Michael Rabin, 1936Ė1972 , CMS 7 64123 2 A, reviewed by David K. Nelson in Fanfare 15:5óitís that strong a temptation. And, of course, Rabinís admirers will also have that collection as well as DOREMIís three releases, one on Audite, and one on Tahra, in addition to the 11 Paganini caprices that Rabin recorded in 1950 on Columbia, reissued on Sony Masterworks Heritage 60894, Fanfare 23:2 (incidentally, Testament will issue a three-CD set in 2012 with some releases from the collection of Michaelís sister, Bertine). The notes to EMIís new (less expensive) set, written by Wolfgang Wendel, suggest that Rabinís name has probably been all but forgotten. Thatís not really true; Iíve encountered pockets of Rabin enthusiasts who revere him now as warmly as we all did a half-century ago, when he rode the heavenly chariot like Dædalus. The DOREMI recordings and Anthony Feinsteinís biography, Michael Rabin: Americaís Virtuoso Violinist , from 2005, reappeared at the end of 2011 in a paperback edition with an updated discography, certainly kept his reputation alive until this, the 40th anniversary of his tragic untimely death. Tragic? Thatís been the subject of debate over the years. I tried to hear him several times, only to find that heíd landed in the hospital in my home town, for what insidersónow, we know, misleadinglyódubbed epileptic seizures. But we donít know (and wonít, until we hear Bertineís tapes) just how well he had exorcised his demons by his very final years (the set should include a reading of the Brahms concerto from 1970), and itís doubtful that the evidence of even a three-CD set will be conclusive. Nobody can know what would have happened, so both despair over his disappearance from catalogs and sanguine speculation about what he might have achieved in an alternate universe sum algebraically to zero (Feinstein, for example, who wrote the notes to EMIís rerelease as well as Rabinís biography, raises the question of what might have happened if Rabin hadnít abandoned Walter Leggeís EMI for Capitol). But as long as we have these recordings, young Michaelís chariot should continue to streak perilously close to the sun, revealing a charioteer with musical expression of Mona Lisa-like elusiveness.


Whatís in this collection to inspire violinists and aficionados of every generation? To begin with, thereís the early recording (1954) of Henri Wieniawskiís First Violin Concerto, a work the composer wrote in his late teens. Rabin hadnít grown much older when he recorded it in the studio (an earlier live recording appears on DOREMI, and he makes as much of its ardent cantilena as he does of its pyrotechnical display. In the course of an interview, violinist Hugh Bean, whoíd been there as assistant concertmaster for the recording, wrote in 1995 that if he wanted to illustrate the sound of a violin to an alien, heíd choose Nathan Milsteinís recording of Karl Goldmarkís violin concerto (he went on to say that Milstein was the Goldmark concerto). But Michael Rabinís recording of the Wieniawski concerto would serve in a pinch. And, in truth, Rabin might actually have been the Wieniawski concerto. Compare Rabinís to the recordings made by Itzhak Perlman or Gil Shaham. In any case, it should take one of the top places in a short list of greatest violin recordings ever made, and itís here. Rabinís first studio recording of Paganiniís First Concerto falls almost into the same category (with the second, in stereo, nearly as good). Both appear here, too. If Rabinís version (from 1954) of Alexander Glazunovís concerto doesnít compete with Jascha Heifetzís or Milsteinís, or his recording of Wieniawskiís Second Concerto canít compare with Heifetzís (especially the first, with John Barbirolli, from 1935) or Sternís (especially the second, with Eugene Ormandy, from 1957; others prefer his first, with Efrem Kurtz, from 1946), and his Scottish Fantasy doesnít have the same urgency as Heifetzís, David Oistrakhís, or Kyung-Wha Chungís, theyíre still marked by his combination of suavity and brilliance.


When Rabin recorded Eugène Ysaÿeís Third and Fourth solo sonatas, those works didnít enjoy the same popularity they do today, and he couldnít lean on the same pillars that current violinists take for granted (Gidon Kremer, Ruggiero Ricci, Leonidas Kavakos, and Maxim Vengerov), but he achieved a smoldering intensity of his own. Similarly, if his reading of Bachís Third Sonata lacks the noble grandeur of Milsteinís, the simple elegance of Arthur Grumiauxís, or the spectacular command of Heifetzís, it falls short only of the gods. In Paganiniís caprices, however, Rabin reigns supreme. Anyone inclined to dispute the opinion of violinist Aaron Rosand that thereís art in technical passages should listen to Rabin in these caprices. Technique and artistry combine in them as perhaps in few other violin recordings.


The contents of two albums of short pieces, Mosaics and The Magic Bow , make up the last of Testamentís CDs. The first consisted of encores with Rabin accompanied by pianist Leon Pommers, who had accompanied Milsteinís Vignettes and Miniatures on Capitol. Some of the Mosaics simply allow Rabin to frisk in a meadow of technical difficulties (as do Alexander Scriabinís Étude in Thirds and Wieniawskiís Caprice, op. 18/4, arranged for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler). Others, like Claude Debussyís waltz La Plus que lente , draw upon his lyrical ability and his rich tonal command. In The Magic Bow , Rabin fused these two abilities even more seamlessly in works for violin and orchestra. His performance of Camille Saint-Saënsís Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso from 1959 (a monaural one from 1956 also appears in the set) makes the piece smolder with Spanish passion, in a reading far removed from Heifetzís static electricity. Rabin reminds everyone in these pieces that he didnít simply have a stunning technical command but also great tonal warmth, glowing in performances reminiscent of Kreislerís in gemütlich geniality.


Purely in terms of organization, it would be easy to choose Testamentís set, with its logical separation of virtuoso concertos, larger-scale works, and its combination of the two encore albums on a single disc. But then, itís easy to program a CD player to accommodate almost any kind of schedule. EMIís recordings follow the same order as the older release now more than 20 years ago, although with slightly different timings, so EMI has tinkered a bit (the booklet mentions no remastering, while Testamentís does, assigning it to 2011). Then thereís the matter of the booklet notes, with Anthony Feinsteinís on Testament easily trumping Wolfgang Wendelís on EMI. Testamentís set includes different photos on the individual cardboard CD sleeves, while EMIís simply reproduces the box cover over and over. Finally, and determinatively, thereís the recorded sound. EMIís set seems to be a rerelease of the older one, with the same order of compositions on the discs and the same sound, while Testamentís seems a bit different, bringing a greater clarity and edginess to the sound. Then thereís the matter of the caprices. EMIís earlier set lists these as monaural recordings, but later released in a ďstereoĒ version in 1993 EMI CDM 6450), then in a version derived from the original monaural master tapes (EMI CDM 7234 5 67462 2 0, Fanfare 24: 6), in a version I considered far more lifelike than those that had preceded it. Both EMIís and Testamentís sets mark the caprices as stereo. Most listeners will probably still prefer the version on CDM 7234 5 67462 0, if their ears arenít playing tricks on them.


How important should collectors take this? For those who havenít encountered Rabin, either set should be a revelation. Itís that simple. Rabinís candle wasnít so short as Josef Hassidís and leaves less to speculation. Itís clear that he really did achieve a lot. To retire from recording around the age of 24 and still have made a small handful of the greatest violin recordings of all timeóthatís a remarkable accomplishment. Compare Heifetz. How many of his greatest recordings did he make only in his 30s (Sibelius, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps) and 40s (Walton, Brahms) or even 50s (Bach sonatas and partitas, Tchaikovsky)? (Of course, recording technology worked against him.) Yet thereís no question of Heifetz being a Wunderkind . Or think of Kreisler and Milstein, or even, a fortiori , of Joseph Szigeti. What these luminaries achieved in their more mature years, Rabin at least approached in his early 20s. Quite an earful for everybody. Donít pass Go, go directly to the Want List.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin no 1 in D major, Op. 6 by NiccolÚ Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1817 
Venue:  No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 
Length: 56 Minutes 10 Secs. 
2. Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 82 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 21 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3. Havanaise for Violin and Orchestra in E major, Op. 83 by Camille Saint-SaŽns
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
Date of Recording: 06/12/1956 
Venue:  Hornsey Town Hall 
Length: 11 Minutes 19 Secs. 
4. Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 28 by Camille Saint-SaŽns
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 9 Minutes 43 Secs. 
5. Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/02/1957 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall 
Length: 28 Minutes 7 Secs. 
6. Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 3 in D minor "Ballade" by EugŤne Ysaˇe
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
Length: 6 Minutes 50 Secs. 
7. Caprices (24) for Violin solo, Op. 1 by NiccolÚ Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1805; Italy 
Venue:  Capitol Studio A, 46th Street, New York 
Length: 67 Minutes 7 Secs. 
8. La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
9. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27: no 2 in D flat major, B 96 by Frťdťric Chopin
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
10. ScŤnes d'enfants: Jeunes filles au jardin by Federico Mompou
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1918; Spain 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
11. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 8: no 10 in D flat major by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1894; Russia 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
12. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 21: no 2, HabaŮera by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 
13. La capricieuse, Op. 17 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; England 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
14. Sea-Shell for violin & piano by Carl Engel
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1911; United States of Ame 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
15. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 23: no 2, Zapateado by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 3 Minutes 30 Secs. 
16. Love for Three Oranges Suite, Op. 33a: March by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919/1924; USA 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 1 Minutes 34 Secs. 
17. Pieces (4) for Violin and Piano, Op. 17: no 4, Burlesca by Josef Suk
Performer:  Leon Pommers (Piano), Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900; Prague, Czech Republ 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
18. ThaÔs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 5 Minutes 30 Secs. 
19. Caprice viennois, Op. 2 by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
20. Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 9 Minutes 34 Secs. 
21. Moto perpetuo for Violin and Orchestra in C major, Op. 11 by NiccolÚ Paganini
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
22. The Old Refrain by Johann Brandl
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
23. Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 - Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 1 Minutes 20 Secs. 
24. Hora staccato, for violin & piano (or orchestra) by Grigoras Dinicu
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Felix Slatkin
Period: Modern 
Written: 1906; Romania 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
25. Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 4 in E minor by EugŤne Ysaˇe
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
Length: 11 Minutes 36 Secs. 
26. Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Venue:  Hornsey Town Hall 
Length: 33 Minutes 23 Secs. 
27. Concerto for Violin no 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 14 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Russia 
Length: 22 Minutes 59 Secs. 
28. Sonata for Violin solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1005 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; CŲthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1955 
Length: 19 Minutes 39 Secs. 
29. Concerto for Violin no 2 in D minor, Op. 22 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Venue:  No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 
Length: 17 Minutes 45 Secs. 
30. Etudes-Caprices (8) for 2 Violins, Op. 18: no 4 in A minor by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 1 Minutes 30 Secs. 
31. PiŤce en forme de HabaŮera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin), Leon Pommers (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Venue:  Capitol Studios, Hollywood 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
32. Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 46 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Liverpool, England 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall 
Length: 28 Minutes 55 Secs. 
33. Tzigane for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Michael Rabin (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Date of Recording: 01/03/1957 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall 
Length: 9 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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