by Peter Cates
Zino Francescatti had a style of playing that was elegant, vibrantly alive and communicative and recorded an early ‘50s Columbia mono LP with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic in which this style truly shined. A late ‘50s second recording of the firebrand Jascha Heifetz paired him and Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony, a performance that was slightly tamer than the earlier Beecham but an excellent example of the RCA Victor Living Stereo process during the mid and late fifties into the early sixties.
Jumping ahead to the early ‘80s of digital sound, violinist Uto Ughi and the very underrated Georges Pretre conducting the London Symphony recorded a larger than life, grandly romantic performance for RCA that was so communicative I listened to it several times in a week. Jean Jacques Kantarow recorded a Denon cd in the early 2000s, featuring a smaller scaled, reserved approach, perhaps more suitable for Bach and Vivaldi but delectable in its musical charm; Emmanuel Krivine and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra provided superb accompaniment.
Due to limited time and space and an overwhelming multitude of violinsts and their contributions to the catalogs, I could not cover very worthwhile interpretations by Milstein, Stern, Oistrakh, Martzy, Perleman, etc., but I recommend that those who love this music follow their own instincts in picking violinists, scrolling through numerous YouTubes as a start.
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