REVIEW POTPOURRI: Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Alfredo Campoli, violin, with Eduard Van Beinum conducting the London Philharmonic (Mendelssohn) and Royalton Kisch, the New Symphony (Bruch); London LL 966, mono LP, recorded 1954.

Felix Mendelssohn

I own a number of duplicate recordings in which the Mendelssohn is coupled with either the Bruch or Tchaikovsky VCs; all three are central to the basic repertoire of concertos that listeners new to classical music gravitate to and rightfully so because they are very beautiful.

Alfredo Campoli

But this record is quite special on its own terms. Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991) had a gift for the most elegant phrasing and fussed over every note as if his life depended on it. Here, he is accompanied by two conductors who were noted for their collaborations with soloists both in concert and the recording studio.

Eduard Van Beinum

Eduard Van Beinum (1901-1959) probably never conducted a bad record during his entire tenure with London/Decca and Epic/Phillips , at least among the ones I own. The notorious Holy Terror perfectionist of a conductor, George Szell bought a copy of the Haydn Symphonies 96 and 97 that Beinum recorded and was so impressed he wrote a note to the latter expressing his deepest pleasure, something as rare as hen’s teeth with Szell. I also own it and love it. And in terms of disposition, Beinum got his results by treating his players with warmth and validation.

Max Bruch

Royalton Kisch (1920-1995) was one of the most talented English conductors to emerge after World War II but, after1964, left conducting because of a bad back. When his father, also a Royalton, died in 1967, the writer mistakenly reported him dead and the error was not corrected for years.

For those who would like to hear this record, they can easily access it on YouTube.


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