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Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Romances Nos. 1 & 2 Import, Live

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, Live, September 9, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Made when Menuhin was in his 30s, this recording catches him at his incomparable peak. His technique is effortless, smooth, and perfect, but it is his tone that is truly breathtaking in its intensity, radiance, purity, and personal expressiveness. The low register glows warmly, while the top has a celestial shimmer. Playing from deep inside the music, he emphasizes the improvisatory freedom of the Romances, especially the second one, making them dreamy, warm, urgent, ecstatic, ethereal, and almost too romantic. The Concerto, too, has a wonderful, flexible spontaneity combined with a grand conception; each theme has its own character: the passage-work plays around the melodies in the orchestra, the slow movement is serene and inward, and the Rondo is sprightly and full of life. The virtuosity of the Kreisler cadenzas never overshadows their musical substance. Furtwängler's approach is fascinatingly different from today's in its imaginative freedom: tempos change for every theme and every mood, and speeds increase and decrease along with the dynamics, yet these liberties sound completely natural and organic, enhancing rather than distorting the music. Salvatore Accardo's very different recording of the same works makes for an interesting comparison: classically austere, noble, inwardly expressive without outward changes, restrained in tempo and feeling, it is entirely convincing. --Edith Eisler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Violin Concerto In D Major,Op.62: I. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Violin Concerto In D Major,Op.62: II. Larghetto
  3. Violin Concerto In D Major,Op.62: III. Rondo (Allegro)
  4. Romance No. 1 In G Major, Op. 40
  5. Romance No. 2 In F Major, Op. 50


Product Details

  • Performer: Yehudi Menuhin
  • Orchestra: Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra of London
  • Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (September 9, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import, Live
  • Label: Testament UK
  • ASIN: B000003XKA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,320 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Yehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Furtwangler were recorded Beethoven's Violin Concerto three times. First is here, and second is live recording(with Berliner Philharmoniker) made by RIAS(Radio in American Sector) Berlin. Last is EMI's re-recording with Philharmonia Orchestra in London. First was recorded in Luzern, with Orchester der Festspiele Luzern(Lucerne Festival Orchestra). It was EMI's SP recording but its sound quality is very good in this time. Luzern Kunsthaus' resonant effect was very 'fantastic'. Menuhin's humanistic approach in this marvelous concerto so good. And Furtwangler's accompaniment is very comportable, too. Two lovely Romances was recorded in London with Philharmonia Orchestra(Recording times and place were same as third recording of concerto). Menuhin's ringing performance on Furtwangler's generous accompaniment is so nice, too. Recording of Romances were first CD restoration internationally in this-by Testament.
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Reviewers here consistently prefer this live 1947 radio broadcast from the Lucerne Festival over the 1953 studio recording from London. I'm not sure the choice is that clear cut, however, until one knows the salient details.

Lucerne 1947: Historically, this is a touching memento of Menuhin's decision to appear with Furtwangler soon after the war, at a time when the conductor's de-Nazification was slow and painful. Menuhin's generous gesture helped to rehabilitate Furtwangler in circles that had condemned him, and this Beethoven concerto performance shows how musically sympathetic the two artists were. Menuhin is placed far forward, his tone bright and at times shrill (as captured by the microphone) but nonetheless warm enough to listen to without wincing. His technique is adequate to the piece despite some effortful passages.

Furtwangler gives almost an identical accompaniment in both recordings, although the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in concert is less polished than the Philharmonia in the studio. Sonics are good radio mono. Tempos are the same in both recordings except for the slow movement, which is 2 min. slower in Lucerne. Menuhin opens the finale firmly and in tune.

1953 London: This studio recording is in quite good mono for its day, and the Philharmonia sounds especially warm and inviting. One notes a metallic edge in both orchestra and soloist at loud volumes (I haven't heard the latest remastering, which might have solved this problem). Menuhin's technique is no longer entirely adequate to the part, though his interpretation hasn't changed in six years. He is noticeably out of tune beginning the finale, with gravelly tone on the G string. In both performances his approach is cautious rather than free and rhapsodic.
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Comparing this with the highly regarded 1953 EMI recording with Furtwangler and the Philharmonia reveals a slightly sweeter and more lyrical performance by Menuhin in the earlier Lucerne recording on Testament. Also, the violin tone sounds a bit deeper and mellower than the later recording, almost as if he is using a different instrument in 1947 than 1953. Both are great, but the Lucerne has the edge.
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Menuhin made two studio recordings of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Furtwängler, and the later one, with the Philharmonia Orchestra in April 1953, all but eclipsed this one, from August 1947 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. The Lucerne recording was, politically, an important event and even statement: the post-war ban on Furtwängler's conducting activities had just been lifted, in May he had been able to conduct his first post-war concert in Berlin (Beethoven's 5th and 6th Symphonies, both on Tahra, Wilhelm Furtwangler and the Berlin Philharmonic (Live 1947-1953) and on Audite's Furtwängler set, Edition Wilhelm Furtwängler - The Complete RIAS Recordings), and Menuhin, anxious to play with a conductor who had been recommended to him by many French friends as the greatest living German one, was ready to brave the hostility of many American Jewish circles.Read more ›
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This collaboration of Menuhin and Furtwaengler is one of the great recordings of the last century. The recording features sublime music making
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