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This release brings together all the known recorded American broadcast performances of Ginette Neveu (1919-1949), including the first publication of a Beethoven Violin Concerto with Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony, a work which the violinist never recorded commercially, and two shorter works (Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s Tzigane) from a New York Philharmonic concert under Charles Munch, all presented from the best possible original sources.
Neveu displayed prodigious talent at an early age. She received her first instruction from her violinist mother, then from Madame Line Talluel, and by seven had performed both the Bruch and Mendelssohn concerti. Her studies continued under George Enescu, and at the age of eleven Neveu received a Premier prix from the Paris Conservatoire. Legendary pedagogue Carl Flesch offered to teach her without charge; and in 1935, when Neveu was fifteen, he paid her way to enter the Wieniawski Competition in Warsaw, where she bested David Oistrakh, Ida Haendel and Henri Temianka among others to win first place, with her performance of Ravel’s Tzigane being a particular audience favorite. Tours throughout Europe, the Soviet Union and America followed, as did her first recordings, made in Berlin.
The coming of the war put her international career on hold. She continued to perform in France, but turned down many offers to play in Germany, where she was particularly admired. In 1942, she first performed with Charles Munch, who took her with him for his first performances in the UK after the war. They also appeared together in Vienna, Prague, Strasbourg and New York. It was during her first postwar appearances in London that she restarted her recording career with the Sibelius Concerto (Pristine PASC 357).
Neveu had first played in America during a recital tour in 1937. Ten years later, she returned to the States to appear in concert with various orchestras. Her performances of the Beethoven Concerto were among the most admired of her interpretations. Karajan, upon conducting her in the work, urged EMI to let him record it with her, a project which was cut short by her death. She also performed the Beethoven in Britain with Barbirolli and in America with Ormandy and Szell. A 1949 German radio performance under Hans Rosbaud was first issued some forty years ago, a reading which Gidon Kremer called “the best, warmest, most human, most personal performance and the one most dedicated to music”, ranking it at the top of all recordings of the work.
More recently, a live performance under Willem van Otterloo was released by Tahra; however, careful comparisons between that version and the Rosbaud and Koussevitzky performances made by critic and violin expert Tully Potter have led him to conclude that this has likely been misattributed. This newly-discovered Koussevitzky now takes its place as the only other Neveu reading of the work to have surfaced. While Neveu recorded both of the works she plays here with Munch, the Ravel had previously been done in the piano-accompanied version, so this live performance offers a valuable alternative.
The present transfers have been made from copies of the original network reference acetate discs. Numerous instances of extraneous noises from the audience and players have been removed. The Beethoven has been transferred at the higher pitch (A4=445 Hz) that Koussevitzky’s Boston Symphony was known to have used at the time, while the Munch/New York performance is presented at the “standard” concert pitch of 440 Hz.
GINETTE NEVEU en Amérique
1. Radio introduction (1:35)
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
2. 1st Mvt.: Allegro ma non troppo (24:46)
3. 2nd Mvt.: Larghetto (9:48)
4. 3rd Mvt.: Rondo (Allegro) (11:15)
Serge Koussevitzky/Boston Symphony Orchestra
ABC broadcast of 23 December 1947, Symphony Hall, Boston
5. Radio introduction (1:08)
6. CHAUSSON Poème, Op. 25 (16:38)
7. Applause and radio introduction (1:11)
8. RAVEL Tzigane (10:56)
Charles Munch/Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
CBS broadcast of 2 January 1949, Carnegie Hall, New York City
Ginette Neveu violin
Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn
Total timing: 77:17