Superb 32-bit XR remasters of the Dvořák string concertos
Mainardi and Haendel on top form for these excellent studio recordings
Original Review (Violin Concerto, Haendel, Decca 78s)
A sound recording, not marked by great subtlety of phrasing in the orchestra: our English players need to cultivate that, above all. It shows the soloist off nobly: a grand player.
Like the solitary violin concerto by Brahms, this one of Dvořák's was written for Joachim (1879). It's not as fine as the violoncello work, but is surely a beauty, although I think he missed coming to his best power in that first movement, where neither the old classics nor the newer (Brahms) is a safe enough model— for him. He was carried away a bit, I think, by the joy of making the fiddle perform. He is too long about that preliminary matter, having regard to the length of the first movement. He was probably bent on rhapsodizing. By the middle of side two he has reached a recognizably Brahmsian mood, but he doesn't know what to make of it, and goes skittishly off on his native-heath plays, which are rather thin value for a work of this size. He works very hard, for a result which doesn't come up to his symphonic writings of this period (e.g., the splendicl symphony in D, called "No. i ". The nineteenth-centusy show concerto is on his mind, and he doesn't quite give it enough intellectual stuffing. By the middle of side 3 he has dropped the first movement, and is moving to the slow one, in his own lovably persuasive way. This slow movement is pure delight. On side 4 he is more drai:iaic: perhaps in a rather conventional, melodranatic way. About an inch on side four brings one of the best ideas, where the soloist flowers out, decorating and enlarging a theme we had before the melodrama. The decoration here seems more in keeping, for it is engaged with more organic matter than in the first movement. Side 4 ends with a varied form of the first theme, and side 5 sees the end of the movement, with this repetition.
The finale is a furiant-and-dumka type, where Dvořák, as so often, gets away with whatever he likes to string together: all mighty jolly, if a bit too long; nobody will have the heart to complain. The soloist does wonders with nearly all this, in apt virility. Now and again a high note slips a trifle. I wish composers wouldn't ask octaves of fiddlers. For various reasons they scarcely ever sound in absolutely perfect tune, whatever the player does.
Gramophone magazine, September 1948 (link)
Notes on the recordings:
I had two LP copies of the Mainardi to work from - the original DGG issue and the mid-60s Heliodor fake-stereo reissue. In terms of surface quality and fidelity the later pressing was infinitely preferable to the original, in near mint condition and with superb sound quality. I was able to strip out the Heliodor stereo processing and remove any phasing artefacts prior to 32-bit XR remastering, which proved highly successful in bringing further treble clarity to the recording.
From the LP the recording was pitched at A=451Hz. However, analysis of mains electrical hum suggested a true tuning of A=450Hz and this has been used for the final remastered version. Likewise the Decca Haendel 78s transferred at around A=451Hz but electrical hum indicated a performance pitch of A=445Hz, which is what is heard here.
Decca's ffrr 78s date from the final months of direct-to-disc recording, prior to tape, and here indicate just how successful this method had become by 1947. The sound is clear, the frequency range well-extended, and with XR remastering little hint remains of the shellac origins of the concerto, which stands up very well in comparison to the cello recording.
Notes from Wikipedia
At the age of thirteen, in 1910, Mainardi had already begun his career as a cello virtuoso who toured the concert halls of Europe. He later taught at the Hochschule für Musik inBerlin and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and also held summer classes in Salzburg and Lucerne. Pupils of his who later became distinguished included Siegfried Palm, Miklós Perényi, Michael Steinkühler, Heidi Litschauer, Erkki Rautio and Joan Dickson.
Together with the pianist Edwin Fischer and the violinist Georg Kulenkampff (whose place was later taken by Wolfgang Schneiderhan), Mainardi formed a famous piano trio. In 1967, he also founded a trio with the pianist Guido Agosti and the flutist Severino Gazzelloni.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrico_Mainardi
Notes from Wikipedia
Ida Haendel was born in Chełm, a small city in Eastern Poland. She took up the violin at the age of three and as a seven-year-old was admitted at the Warsaw Conservatory.She later studied with Carl Flesch and George Enescu in Paris. During World War II she played in factories and for British and American troops. Her career developed after the end of World War II. Her autobiography, Woman with Violin, was published in 1970. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991. Haendel has lived primarily in Miami, Florida for many years and is actively involved with the Miami International Piano Festival.
Ida Haendel has said that she has always had a passion for German music. In 1948-49 she recorded Beethoven's Violin Concerto, with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. In 1993 she had her concert début with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Germany's female star virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter craves her opinions andMaxim Vengerov regards her with awe.
Other acclaimed recordings are her renditions of Brahms' Violin Concerto (including one with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Celibidache) andTchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted Basil Cameron.
In June 2009 Haendel appeared on a Channel 4 television programme entitled The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies in which she advises 16 year old British composerAlexander Prior on which children to choose to play his composition.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_Haendel