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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concerto in e.
Violin Concerto No. 1.
Caprice viennois. Liebesleid. Liebesfreud
Shlomo Mintz (vn); Claudio Abbado, cond; Chicago SO; Clifford Benson (pn)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6349, analog (66:35)
In the late LP era and now, in the era of the CD, Mendelssohn’s and Bruch’s violin concertos have been frequently paired; Shlomo Mintz therefore chose
what had become a well-trodden path for his debut recording with Claudio Abbado and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The sessions took place in February 1980, and the resultant issue in 1981 won the Grand Prix du Disque. Mintz emerged from the opening measures of Mendelssohn’s Concerto as a strong personality, one that could be identified from the manner of his tone production in a single note as well as by his inflection throughout a phrase, although that, too, sounded highly individual. His command in the cadenza, therefore, displayed no fuller measure of his individuality than did his playing of the first movement’s melodically simpler (or is it?) second theme. Details abound, but his musical identity doesn’t depend on them, either—his character seemed more fundamental than that. This wasn’t Heifetz’s electricity, Elman’s romantic freedom, Kreisler’s
, Milstein’s nobility, Francescatti’s edgy brilliance, nor, most certainly of all, anyone else’s less personal manner. He played the slow movement with relaxed, touching warmth, and the finale, in conjunction with the orchestra, with as much solid substance as jaunty grace. Abbado and the orchestra provided intelligent support, and the recorded sound still conveys much of the urgency with which Mintz’s violinistic voice could communicate.
Mintz displays an even more striking profile, if possible, in Bruch’s Concerto, with rhetorical command in the preamble-like first movement, in which he continually finds fresh points of view in passages so often explicated. His almost vibratoless hushed entry in the slow movement may be unique, but his throbbing delivery of the movement’s main theme’s hardly less so. If his G-string passages in the finale don’t display the reedy command of Stern’s or Milstein’s, his general manner strikes the listener as forcefully as theirs did.
Mintz’s notes to the three Kreisler pieces suggest that he tried to integrate Kreisler’s personality into his own. The results sounded strikingly original, at a time when some other violinists, including Itzhak Perlman, played the master with a blander but equally sonorous elegance. So the thematic sections of the
, with the sympathetic Clifford Benson, exhibit a thrilling freedom, while the rapid staccatos in the middle sound playful, even kittenish.
These early recordings promised a career as big in interpretive ideas as in technical command or tonal suavity. Although their promise wasn’t destined to be fulfilled in a large catalog of equally striking recordings, by themselves, they’re an imperishable testament to a magnificent talent. Urgently recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1844; Germany
Caprice viennois, Op. 2 by Fritz Kreisler
Shlomo Mintz (Violin),
Clifford Benson (Piano)
Liebesleid by Fritz Kreisler
Shlomo Mintz (Violin),
Clifford Benson (Piano)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64: 1. Allegro molto appassionato
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64: 2. Andante
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64: 3. Allegro non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26: 1. Vorspiel (Allegro moderato)
Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26: 2. Adagio
Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26: 3. Finale (Allegro energico)
Caprice viennois op.2: Allegro molto moderato - Andante con moto - Presto - Andante con moto - piů vivo - Tempo I
Liebesleid: Tempo di Laendler
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Unfulfilled Expectations September 22, 2015
By owen r. (lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews
"In the booklet notes Mintz states his intention is '' of doing something a little different, especially in the question of interpretation..among its ingredients: fast vibrato, generous portamento, freedom with rhythm and with the printed text in general.'' Indeed, these are individualistic performances of some merit. The Mendelssohn times out about 4 minuets longer than other recordings I have of this piece, perhaps accounting for it, at times, seeming to not move forward when I expected it to. The audio is slightly on the bright side but, otherwise, pretty good. The young Abbado with the great CSO provide accompaniment compatible with Mintz's performance. This disc could be a worthwhile addition to your collection."