Zino Francescatti - a re-appreciation
Among the huge number of truly great violinists - living and gone - let us honor one of them once in a while. Zino Francescatti was unique in many ways: his personal history (at least in part, as possibly an "indirect" pupil of Paganini), his vibrato, his technique, his "heart," his stage presence, his interpretations, his personal charm and warmth, and his recorded legacy. Among my favorite performances, the Beethoven and Brahms Concertos (with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1950's). And Francescatti is instantly recognizable, one of those who cannot be mistaken for anyone else.
Don't forget his legendary showpieces record. His Vieuxtemp 4 was (is) my reference. recording.
His mono recording of the Beethoven was one of my first LPs, bought in 1968, and I loved it. I bought a ticket to hear him perform the Brahms with the LSO in Bristol but unfortunately he must have been indisposed. His deputy was Tossy Spivakovsky - another who deserves to be better remembered?
Zino Francescatti is considered as one of representatives of French school, he also has Italian heritage. He was pupil of his father, and his father was pupil of Camillo Sivori, Genovese, pupil of Paganini. This virtuoso was one of dearest friends of Maestro Accardo (owns a Stradivari 1727 named "ex-Francescatti").
All of the above comments regarding Zino Francescatti relate to his recordings, most of which I have either owned or heard. In 1948/50 I was studying violin with Jascha Simkins, a pupil pf Franz Kneisel at the Institute of Musical Arts in downtown New York, later to become the Juilliard School of Music, and after that, The Juilliard School. Simkins was a member of the 1st violin section of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and during the years mentioned, my father provided me with a season ticket for the Philadelphia Orchestra, residing in the 'old' Academy of Music. In 1951 I entered the Juilliard School of Music and for 5 years attended most of the PO's series each season in Carnegie Hall. I have heard ALL of the performances live, and in Carnegie Hall, listed in prior comments, and I can tell you that the recordings give only a 'taste' of that artist's sound and power as a violinist, in the public forum. He played with a loosely tightened bow, and a wide vibrato, the combination of which projected totally over the orchestra to the last seat in the gallery where I sat for most of the concerts. Now, would you like to have similar descriptions of Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, or Erica Morini, also perennial favorites of Ormandy and the orchestra? They just don't come like that anymore. I was born in 1933, and there are very few of us around anymore!
Very cool. There are a few Kneisel pupils who went on to teach-- Joseph Fuchs being the first one that springs to mind. Did Simkins ever tell you any specifics about Kneisel's playing?
Francescatti has always been one of my favorite violinists. He had a beautiful sound that was unique. I loved his tone and wide vibrato. His sound inspired me. I agree that "[t]hey don't come like [him] anymore." His recordings of the Mendelssohn, Bruch, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev No. 2 concertos are truly remarkable. His recording of the Saint-Saens No. 3 is the best I ever heard (except for Milstein's recording which is stunning as well). His recording of the Chausson Poeme is gorgeous. I also love his Lalo Symphonie Espanole. His recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas with Robert Casadesus are a joy to listen to -- especially the Spring Sonata. His recordings of the Franck and Debussy Sonatas are elegant. His recording of Schubert's Grand Fantasy is a classic.
One of my favorites too! His recording of the Paganini D Major was the first time I heard the piece, and I still think it is about the best (though there are so many great ones).
Francis - it all depends on who is playing (and where).
Oh, wow, so Heifetz and Stern live with orchestra sounded like their recordings? That's amazing! Come to think of it, I have heard Hillary Hahn and Joshua Bell live playing romantic concerti, and I had no trouble hearing them, though it certainly wasn't the 1960s close mic sound, but totally clear. Maybe some of it is the power of the player/instrument combo, and some of it is what type of tone they are projection.
Not sure why Zukerman has met with problems with posters here-- I've heard him a number of times at Symphony Hall, in recital and with the BSO. His sound has always been enormous. Voice of God kind of enormous.
Mr. Zukerman's tone is huge-but there are plenty of variables, as in not having a seat that is "ideal" sonic-wise for the performance and/or hall acoustics.
I played with Zukerman a few years back, I think it was the Bruch concerto.
If he feels anything like I do about the piece he'd have sent it by pigeon post. BUT in 1975 (I think) I heard him give an immense performance of the Elgar in London, so yes he always could project