Two superb concerto recordings from tragic Russian virtuoso
"The greatest violinist I have ever heard" - Yehudi Menuhin
Notes on the recordings:
The Sibelius concerto recording by Julian Sitkovetsky came to me in a collection of discs transferred for Pristine Classical's streaming audio service by Dr. John Duffy, accompanied by another recording made by Anossov with the Czech Philharmonic. The name Sitkovetsky rang a bell - a few years ago we briefly issued a recent live recording made locally by his son, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, also a world-renowned violinist - and when I heard the performance here I determined to find out more.
Alas Julian Sitkovetsky's recordings are understandably few, and some of what have survived are of poor technical quality. Happily the two concerto recordings presented here were both of sufficient quality to make a full 32-bit XR remastering not only beneficial but highly worthwhile. Despite some surface noise at times on Dr. Duffy's Supraphon sides, much of which I've been able to alleviate, and some rather rough tone at times from the Moscow Youth Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sitkovetsky's playing shines throughout these recordings, and is a consistent joy to hear.
Biographical notes from Wikipedia
He started violin lesson at age 4, first with father, then with David Bertie at the Central School in Kiev. As a child prodigy, he was chosen to play for Jacques Thibaud at age 8. One year later, he played the Mendelssohn concerto with the Kiev Symphony. In 1939, he enrolled in the Moscow Central Music School, class of Abram Yampolsky, whose students include Leonid Kogan, Igor Besrodny and Rotislav Dubinsky.
In 1945 Julian Sitkovetsky was winner of the All Soviet Union Young Performers Competition of piano, cello and violin (Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich were the winners in piano and cello). In 1947, he shared First Prize at the Prague Festival with Leonid Kogan and Igor Besrodny.
In 1952, he shared Second prize in the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition with Wanda Wilkomirska (first prize was Igor Oistrakh). In 1955 he won Second Prize at theQueen Elizabeth Music Competition. (Of which Yehudi Menuhin said: "...David Oistrakh and I were on the jury...he should have had First Prize...").
Julian Sitkovetsky never toured much, as he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1956. He died in 1958, at age 32.
Joseph Magil, critic (himself a violinist and violist) of the American Record Guide, said of him: "...David Oistrakh said that, had he lived, Sitkovetsky would have eclipsed him and Kogan….He had a broad, firm, focused tone in all registers; flawless intonation; a rapid, even trill; a swift, perfectly controlled staccato; strong, immaculate harmonics; an even, clear sautillé..."