Grumiaux Brahms/Concertgebuow Available for Download!

December 21, 2005 at 07:15 PM · Merry Christmas to my friends at Violinist.com! This 1958 peformance of the Brahms Concerto by Grumiaux, with Van Beinum conducting the Concertgebuow, is far-and-away superior to the Grumiaux/Brahms/New Philharmonia/Davis that has been previously on the market. This is not strictly a CD review, since Philips hasn't seen fit to re-issue this exciting performance.

Why do I think it's better? Anything I say will produce argument I suppose, but Grumiaux's tone is grand and ringing, his mood is regal, his vibrato thrilling, his, er, rhythmic interpretation milks every drop of romanticism from this concerto, so it will not please those who would interpret the concerto in a strict classicist way. Since Brahms was on the line between the classical and romantic era, I would argue that the concerto is open to either approach.

I'm also in love with the Concertgebuow on this old vinyl. This is one recording of the Brahms where the woodwinds are loud, clear, and nice and "reedy." It's arguable who is actually conducting here, Van Beinum or Grumiaux, but they were certainly on the same page that day.

These are large files (MP3s), but have at it; there is no limit on my server. I doubt if Philips will care about this, since they refuse to put it out for sale.

1stMovement (19.8 MB)

2ndMovement (7.9 MB)

3rdMovement (7.1 MB)

Happy Holidays!

Replies (87)

December 21, 2005 at 08:34 PM · Thank you so much. I used to own this recording on tape. This is incredible!

December 21, 2005 at 09:41 PM · Thank you, Scott. Fabulous.

December 21, 2005 at 10:26 PM · This is a great early christmas present for me... ;D Thank you

December 22, 2005 at 12:28 AM · F___ yeah!

December 22, 2005 at 03:39 AM · Thanks for the kind words guys. Yes Sandy, this was what I was going to send you by snail mail. Now you've got it! Notes on the recording to MP3:

I had this vinyl when it was new, and I wore it out. The introduction was full of skips that I got used to. Then I found a clean copy online for $20 and I bought it last year. Here's a .jpg of the cover:

OneAlbumCoverForYa

I took a line out from my stereo and plugged into one of the inputs of my Delta sound card. I recorded the vinyl into Soundforge 5, then used a mild setting of Sonic Foundry Crackle and Pop Remover on the resulting .wav file. I also normalized the volume back up to -16dB RMS as it loses volume on the route from stereo to sound card. I then used a Lame encoder to put it to mono MP3 @128 kbps. It turned out rather well I think.

December 22, 2005 at 04:01 AM · Well. I see that 116 of you have downloaded the first movement, and about half that number the other two. That's amazing. Love that internet. So, let me have it. I'm thinking that about 112 of you hated it and are too polite to say so (or afraid of gettin' in a fight!).

Cheers,

Scott H.

December 22, 2005 at 04:56 AM · More observations on this wunderbar performance:

-The vibrato on the chords seems to be extra rich comnpared to what I hear modern players do. Have I got that right?

-Grumiaux's timing of the ending of the third, the ritadarndo and decrescendo that closes the piece, is the most daring (and carefully controlled) slow-down I have ever heard on this passage, and the result is intensely theatrical/operatic. The curtain is coming down, the lights are fading, and A.G. dies right there in the middle of the stage.

-I doubt if Grumiaux was known for his "gypsy" playing. The chamber music and Mozart Concertos he's justly-famous for show restraint and care along with his wit. In a word, taste. This concerto performance is a whole 'nuther thing. Who knew the starched Belgian could get down like that? Could someone tell me if there are more of his recorded performances that have this kind of passion and zegeunerweisen?

December 22, 2005 at 05:15 AM · what cadenza does he use for the first mvmt?

December 22, 2005 at 05:26 AM · The Joachim. I love the modernity of the chromatic bits. I suppose most are tired of that one.

December 22, 2005 at 06:08 AM · This is such a wonderful recording, maybe my favorite recording of the Brahms now that I've finally gotten to hear it. Thank you so much, Scott!

December 22, 2005 at 06:17 AM · I wonder why Philps is sitting on it? Because a few notes are out of tune? I've heard far worse on some famous records. What I don't get is what's supposed to be so good about the Perlman/Fistoulari record? I mean, it's good, but the finale leaves me cold. (I love the older Perlman recordings most of the time, so I'm not grinding an axe about him.)

December 22, 2005 at 06:36 AM · The Milstein/(Fistoulari, I think) is still the recording I listen to most frequently. Hiefetz and Oistrakh are tied for #2.

This Grumiaux recording is quite good. I especially like the interpretation of the first two pages of the solo part in the first movement. Why ISN'T Phillips putting this out? They could edit whatever is out of tune, couldn't they?

Anyway. A fine addition to my collection of Op.77 recordings. F___ yeah!

December 22, 2005 at 06:21 AM · Hi Scott Hawthorn - Sometimes I find AG's playing placid (in other pieces) but this Brahms is indeed very fiery and passionate playing. Many thanks, pal. Regards for a Blessed Christmas & a Happy New Year - Lee.

December 22, 2005 at 06:46 AM · Perlman/Fistoulari? Did he record with Fistoulari? When?

December 22, 2005 at 07:04 AM · Sorry, short-circuit here. I meant to say Perlman/Giulini.

December 22, 2005 at 02:44 PM · I don't know for sure, but my guess is that great performances like this are not re-issued because they would compete with later performances by the same artist.

December 22, 2005 at 04:36 PM · Hmmm. It's true that Philips owns Universal, the publisher of the other Grumiaux Brahms. Not sure if the release of both would actually cut down on total purchases of Brahms-Grumiaux, but it's as good as any theory I've seen (none). I would guess that those people don't understand us violinists-- we buy ALL of it if we can.

December 23, 2005 at 04:02 AM · Yeah. All six of us.

December 23, 2005 at 04:26 AM · Great recording. Thanks!

Grumiaux with hutzpah. Wow!!

December 23, 2005 at 01:04 PM · The more I listen to this, the more I love it. Many thanks, again and again.

Try the Francescatti (on Biddulph) Beethoven VC (Ormandy, Philadelphia). Totally different style, but same kind of imperishable performance.

December 23, 2005 at 01:47 PM · OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks Scott!!!!!!!!!!!! This is just fantastic playing. WOW!

Cheers!

December 23, 2005 at 02:53 PM · Christian and all of you,

It's nice to have my opinion validated. I was wondering if it was simply that effect, posited in another thread, where your first recording of a work is always your definitive performance, because of familiarity. I believe in that effect, since most of my favorite performances were the first ones I owned. Turns out that my mom, who bought me most of those recordings when I was a kid, must have had excellent taste, or maybe she read the reviews first.

This performance is the one that started the ugly fight between Lisa Marsnik and me, where she opined that Grumiaux was so talentless on this record, somebody must have financed his career! I would have believed her if she hadn't been so strangely militant about it all, plus pronouncing the whole performance to be grossly sharp. Anyway, I'm totally pumped that others find this record to be as great as I did. Thanks for letting me know!

-Scott H.

December 23, 2005 at 03:05 PM · The whole performance is NOT grossly sharp. There are a couple of questionable notes (especially a couple of double-stops in the first movement), but that does not detract from a spectacular and moving performance. WOW is right.

The few glitches MAY indicate that this was a one-take studio performance. If anybody knows, it would be interesting to find out. I know that the Francescatti/Beethoven/Ormandy (see above) was a one-take studio performance, and there are a couple of glitches in that, too. It, too, is beyond great.

December 23, 2005 at 03:20 PM · That's interesting, Sandy. I have never found a favorite recording of the Beethoven yet (maybe I'm too fussy), so I'm quite interested in what you have there.

The ONLY thing I EVER found written on the web about this Grumiaux Brahms talked about its being recorded in the same time period, and with the same orchestra and cunductor, of what the writer considered to be an astounding performance by AG of the Beethoven. He heaped superlatives on both performances. I think the Beethoven was supposed to be available but I haven't looked for it yet. The mystery deepens as to why the Brahms hasn't been re-issued. I sent another e-mail to Philips/Decca and received an out-of-the-office for the holidays reply.

And yes, the first time the pp motif with Bb/G# then A/A appears, it's out-of-tune. Of course, I got used to that years ago and love it because it makes it sound hard and it's got soul!

December 23, 2005 at 03:31 PM · And, to be fair to Lisa, who isn't here to defend her positions, the other major criticisms were

1. Grumiaux played fast and loose with the tempo markings, violating classical rules and Brahms' intent. I have to say, that comment caused me to educate myself about classical/romantic interpretation. I hadn't a clue.

2. He could not make the violin "sing"-- every bow change was audible to her, unlike Milstein, for ex. I put this down to simply a disagreement about style.

3. The opening entrance was wimpy (!!!!!)

4. If there was more, I have blocked it out. >G<

Sorry to have even brought this up, but I had admired that person's knowledge and ability to write about it so deeply that I was absolutely shocked at the scathing review I got. I'll be quiet now.

December 23, 2005 at 03:43 PM · Hi,

Scott, another fantastic Grumiaux release that just came out in recent months is the Tchaikovsky Cto and Bruch Scratch Frantically (Scottish Fantasy) - both great. Especially the Bruch - so nice to hear something different.

Cheers!

December 23, 2005 at 03:49 PM · Christian,

LOL @ "Scratch Frantically"! Thanks much for that info. As I said, I'm looking for more AG performances with that kind of emotional intensity-- his Mozart and stuff is somewhat polite-sounding. And I'm a sucker for the SF and don't care for the famous Heifetz one. The one I like is out-of-print by Oistrakh, amnd mine is too scratchy to listen to. What label is it on, plz?

December 23, 2005 at 03:58 PM · Another great Grumiaux I like is the first recording of the Paganini 4th Concerto. Great playing.

I don't think the opening of the Brahms is "wimpy." Grumiaux (to me) plays with a certain quality of lingering on each note and savoring it, like you would fully pay attention to each bite of a juicy steak (rather than gobbling it down and racing to the next bite). I think that the downside of this may be that there is a sense that he is not always giving attention to the pulse of the music in pieces that require this.

Does that make any sense?

December 23, 2005 at 04:03 PM · I found the CD on Amazon, Christian. Thanks again! OK Sandy, will check that out, thanx.

December 23, 2005 at 04:04 PM · Sander sez:

"I don't think the opening of the Brahms is "wimpy." Grumiaux (to me) plays with a certain quality of lingering on each note and savoring it, like you would fully pay attention to each bite of a juicy steak (rather than gobbling it down and racing to the next bite)."

Exactly! Not wanting to post TOO many comments about the performance, I left that one out, but yes, I think his attention to detail of almost every note and turn of phrase is what makes me disappointed in many of the other good records of the Brahms that are out. AG did not miss a trick, not one.

"I think that the downside of this may be that there is a sense that he is not always giving attention to the pulse of the music in pieces that require this."

You could be right! At least in the first mvmnt, which seems to entail about 47 different tempos.

December 23, 2005 at 05:25 PM · Yeah, the Paganini #4 is with (I think) the Lamoreaux (spelling?) orchestra. I forget the conductor. There's a later performance readily available (with Bellugi?) which is very good, but that first one is fantastic. And I don't think the the purists among us would be too overly concerned about following the letter score for Paganini as they might about Brahms. In fact, I don't know to what extent the 4th is a reconstruction, so all the markings in the music may or may not be Paganini's anyway.

And please, please check out the Beethoven. It really is a uniquely great performance. Of all the zillions of times the Beethoven has been recorded and played, I keep coming back to the Francescatti/Ormandy.

December 23, 2005 at 04:14 PM · Is it available Sandy?

And, as a psychologist, do you think I have an obsession? I think I know the correct answer: if it's not harming anybody, it's OK if I do.

December 23, 2005 at 04:22 PM · The only CDs of Franc. playing the Beethoven that are on Amazon are with Bruno Walter. help me!

December 23, 2005 at 04:24 PM · OK, Scott: Check out Biddulph. They re-issued the Francescatti/Ormandy last year (coupled with the Romances, also beautiful performances). The Ormandy beats the Walter by a mile. There is also on CD a live performance (from the same year, 1950) with Mitropolous and the NY Philharmonic. The performance is spectacular, just like the Ormandy, except the sound is lousy because of the way it was recorded.

As to your "obsession," I must confess I have the same one about the Francescatti. And, remember, there are two sides to every coin. In my professional as well as personal opinion, characteristics such as obsessiveness have a considerable upside. Without obsessiveness, no one would ever be able to play the violin, or get through any graduate school, or learn how to sell, or come to fully understand any work of art. Most people have "obsessions," but they just don't talk about them and brag about them the way musicians and music-lovers do.

Wear it with pride.

Cordially, Sandy

December 23, 2005 at 04:31 PM · Yessir! I mean, without this obsession, I would never have posted the MP3s, for cryin' out loud.

Oh yeah, you *did* say Bidulph, and I already forgot. I'm all over it, man. If you loved "my" Brahms, have no doubt I'll see the value of "your" Beethoven! And I need to hear some good Francescatti, cuz I think I must have heard him when he was starting to go over the hill.

December 23, 2005 at 04:34 PM · Yeah, right on. His recordings around 1950 (late 40's, early 50's, just before stereo) are spectacular. There is another CD (1955?) that is a live performance from Library of Congress (Bridge records?). All Paganini. More than spectacular. Pizzicati and harmonics like you wouldn't believe. Caprices (with piano accompaniment), other pieces, and the complete 1st Concerto (with piano accompaniment). Nobody else ever sounded like Francescatti. What a loss that he didn't found a school (Alright, so maybe if you're a purist you think a Francescatti School would have been terrible).

I saw him in person once -- the Mendellsohn with the Chicago SO, around 1960. It was an absolutely beautiful performance. My dad told me once that he was on a business trip in the early 50's and saw Francescatti (in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh) play the Brahms, and the audience walked out seeing stars.

Oh, well, now you know my obsession (one of them, anyway).

Cheers, Sandy

December 23, 2005 at 04:48 PM · Hi,

For one who likes Francescatti, I would recommend the DVD with Cassadessus where they play the 9th and 10th Beethoven Sonatas. Magical. On old LP's, not re-issued I think, is Francescatti's performance of the Walton Concerto. The lyrical theme of the last movement is just amazing. Sounds like he uses a bow a hundred miles long. Just line and nothing else.

Cheers!

December 23, 2005 at 05:00 PM · Thank you, Christian: I'll check it out. And I know the Walton. It is one of those few things that you can mention in the same league with the Heifetz.

Sandy

December 23, 2005 at 05:03 PM · Dr. Marcus,

I may need to see you. I have an obsession with the lovely Anne-Sophie Mutter. I don't know why--she's not attractive nor can she play :) but I may need some professional help. I can't stop playing her Brahms...or Sibelius...or Korngold...or Tchaikovsky...or refer to her recordings when I'm learning something new...

December 23, 2005 at 05:10 PM · Andrew: You could do a lot worse. I have an obsession about that famous violinist, Henny Youngman, who once said, "I have all the money I'll ever need....if I die by 4 o'clock."

December 23, 2005 at 05:28 PM · Might I recommend a full lobotomy?

December 23, 2005 at 06:24 PM · Yes, Andrew, get help!!! :D

December 23, 2005 at 06:42 PM · Thanks for Grumiaux recording!

December 23, 2005 at 06:50 PM · Make sure to share the Ertel Concerto with Amy Mr. Sordsie!

December 23, 2005 at 07:07 PM · Then again, Amy, you want to elope with a certain male German violinist...have an illicit affair and be the inspiration for a torrid romantic drama... :)

December 23, 2005 at 07:30 PM · Francescatti recordings (Mendelssohn, Bruch, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev 2, & Chausson's Poem) from the early 50s with Mitropoulos/NY & Ormandy/Philadelphia were reissued in 1996 on Sony's Masterworks Heritage label. They're mono but 20-bit remastered and are all fantastic recordings. His vibrant vibrato, tremendous bow-arm, and impeccable intonation are all at their height in these recordings.

These are much better recordings than some of the latter 50's and 60's versions where, although his playing is still great, there was a strange tendency to over-mic him. The earlier recordings were all made in the shadow of Heifetz, who gave my favourite renderings of most concertos for the time, until I heard Francescatti. Now I alternate between the two violinists for many recordings as they were so very different.

December 23, 2005 at 07:42 PM · Hi again Rick! Haven't chatted with you in a while...are you familiar with Maud Powell's recording of The Caprice on Dixie? I've recently been given a copy of the sheet music by Joseph Gold, let me know if you want me to scan you a copy! Great piece...love that tune!

December 23, 2005 at 07:32 PM · Wow! I'm coming into this thread a little late, but I just downloaded the first mvmt and am listening to it now and all I can say is ... WOW.

I, too, tend to be partial to the first recording of a piece that I've ever heard, but I love this one. Thanks for sharing.

December 23, 2005 at 07:50 PM · My pleasure Karin, believe me. Wait'll you hear the other two! The adagio is heartbreaking.

December 24, 2005 at 02:00 AM · Fiery, Fiery, Fiery! I heard the whole 1st movement going to my chiropractor and the 2nd & 3rd coming back. Very much different from other Grumiaux recordings in general, which are of course placid. He must have been in a agitated & angry mood when he recorded this! Thanks again Scott.

December 24, 2005 at 02:05 AM · There are very few violinists that play like this anymore...nowadays you hear lots of talking and not much singing.

December 24, 2005 at 02:17 AM · Sometimes, it evens sound too intense and I had the feeling that Grumiaux could have even burst all his bow hairs and violin strings in that very recording session! Merry Christmas everyone and dear Jonathan Frohnen.

December 24, 2005 at 02:43 AM ·

Is it any wonder that I find most other recordings of the Brahms to be tepid? Now I never thought of it as anger before, but maybe so.

December 24, 2005 at 01:01 PM · Rick: Yeah, that Sony set of Francescatti recordings is a gem. I especially like the Tchaikovsky and the Prokofiev #2. In fact, my favorites of both also are these performances and those of Heifetz.

Scott: And as to the Grumiaux Brahms that is the subject of this thread, I have now listened to it about 10 times. I'm going to listen to it ten times more (and that's just today). What a phenomenal performance. Anger? Well, whatever it is, emotionally, Grumiaux nailed it in this performance. It has a freshness and sponteneity to it that is really spellbinding. Many, many thanks again for sharing it.

And, incidentally, I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year to all.

Sandy

December 24, 2005 at 03:22 PM · Sander/Sandy,

Thanks again for the validation. I guess I'm not crazy after all, at least not on this subject! Poor as I am, I'm so glad I have my broadband connection and my web space, making this all possible. And good for Laurie for allowing me to post the links. I'm still assuming that the copyright on this old record has expired, uh, I hope.

December 24, 2005 at 04:16 PM · Scott-

It seems I can only stream the audio. I can't download it.

Is it because I have a Mac? I'm sort of computer ignorant....

Help?

December 24, 2005 at 04:31 PM · I'm not a Mac person, but I do know that will happen on my PC with certain settings chosen in Internet Expolder. Are you using the Mac version of that? If so, find and turn off the Media Bar.

If that doesn't work, let me know and I will try something else. Do you not have an option to 'Save to hard drive' or some such?

December 24, 2005 at 04:56 PM · I'll investigate. Thanks. You've already been so helpful.

I remember listening to this recording on cassette as a kid, and thinking, 'wow, this is great, but why does the pitch have to be so sharp!'

Of course, that's how many tape players play.

When I listened to your MP3 file, it was like opening up a lost treasure chest of memories. It immediately brought back so many forgotten memories.

And the sound and pitch is just perfect, of course. Incredible recording. Amazing.

December 24, 2005 at 05:04 PM · I supposedly have "perfect pitch," but I'm one of the lucky ones who, if the performance is awesome, couldn't care less unless it's really egregious. I'm a jazz fan as well, and there is a saxophone player named Jackie McLean who plays consistently sharp on everything. I still love everything he plays-- I think he does it on purpose. The effect is, shall we say, piquant, like a very sharp cheese.

December 24, 2005 at 10:52 PM · I did my download from my office Bloomberg machine (with a Intel PC) - there was no problem at all.

December 24, 2005 at 11:23 PM · No there isn't-- it has something to do with media options set in his browser. Some Mac Head needs to give him a hand.

December 25, 2005 at 07:40 AM · fantastic recording, thanks so much for that scott.

December 25, 2005 at 07:48 AM · Hi Scott and others as well,

I think this is the most interesting topic / discussion and probably the most meaningful one that I ever come across in violinist.com. Arthur Grumiaux, a link from Vieuxtemps, Ysaye, Alfred Dubois ( full name is memtioned as afraid of not much people knowing him ) is the best representative of the 20th century Belgian school playing. As a vivid collector for G's recordings, I own all of them except the Brahms strings trio.

Talking about this 1958 brahms recording I remember I have the CD. It's partnered with another concerto on a Philips label disc ( Japanese version ). The cover you show here could be from a very old release. However I don't remember much of his playing here and thanks for reminding me that I own such a wonderful CD from G. True, G is quite intense and ardent here and some places even like screaming out on strings ( probably due to poor audio effect on my computer, I'm going to play it on the vaccum tube amplifier tonight ) Yet he plays everything gloriously. I regard G as the most noblest playing as his aristocratic approach polish most things well. Henry Roth said "Upon the passing away of G, the violin world lose a true nobleman" Needless to say, his Mozart and Schubert are most well known and welcomed. I'm glad that Grumiaux is still remembered nowadays. We should educate more people, especially young students, to have a knowledge that Grumiaux is an unique symbol that nobody should miss him out. "you can like or dislike, but Grumiaux is all there" just like what Ivy Gilits said.

For listeners who think G is placid, tepid or too gentle to play I would recommend his Paganini concertos ( #1 & #4 ) and his Vieuxtemps concertos ( #4 & #5).

Sander I share your view on recommending his 1st version for paganini #4. It's comparatively vital and spotanenous to his late stereo one. Briefly what spring to my mind should be G's bach partitas and sonatas. A good demonstration for students along with the Szeryng rendition. Both are robust and tastefully played. Admittedly G made some slips here ( pitch problem ) but his chordal playing remain fantastic.

Scott, have you listened to G's zegeunerweisen if you like his "gysp" playing ? Another gem that should be mentioned about G is his VIOTTI CONCERTO NO.22. (Edot de Watt conducted Royal Concertegbouw ) YOu know what, the first note I heard from Grumiaux many years ago is not Mozart, not Bach, not Brahms, not any of the major repertoire concertos. It was the Viotti that gave me the recognition of this aristocracy. That grand style he shaped here is in his zenith. Once I was asked to choose for only ONE work that would most comprehensively manifest G's characteristc and Viotti is the answer.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND people try this work if you want to know the genuine style and tone about Grumiaux. You can have a detail biography and discography of G at the following

http://www.grumiaux.net/

and you can direct your admiration and appreciation of G to the site maintainer. That site is classified into several different languages and regrettably the English version is "still under construction" ( that appeared 1- 2 years ago I think ).

By the way, I went to listen a Grumiaux student years ago. That turned out to be a rather disappointing concert night throughout my listening experience, however. He showed no signs and vestige on his playing that can be co-related to the great master. And even the playing on his own didn't blend with the orchestra that tends to be rather non-persuasive. His name is Augustin Dumay. Another Grumiaux student I knew is Stehpanie Chase. Just don't have a chance to listen her.

Christian I share you view on watching the Francescatti/Casasdeus DVD about the Bee sonata. The bonus section comprises Bazzini dance of globins which is extracted by the art of violin DVD. Both Francescatti and Grumiaux should achieve more depth and height on their careers. They have a Franco-Belgian tone that is most easily recognized than other players. so What turn them to be lesser known ? According to the Great violin Master by Boris schwarz G doesn't like to travel and F never travel on flights. I think that's the reason.

FOr the Bee VC recording by F ( ormandy with philadelphia ) Scott you should give it a chance. That version is far superior to the other 2 ( mono one at 40's from Doremi and the stereo one with Bruno walter) and it's the BEST beethoven concerto recordings among dozens of others ( I got menuhin, milstein, heifetz, szeryng, elman, kogan, oistrakh, perlman, joshua bell, mullova, mutter, stein, hilary hahn, neveu, kreisler, schneiderhang, nicoja Zandier, and so on . . . ) except the Hubermann as Hubermann is really something particularly special and unequalled. Needless saying, I have all of the F's recording that I can have. The recent recordings are beethove sonatas ( mono record ) with Casadeus on Biddulph. SOmebody charge F's playing as single dimensional and lack of colors. Well, I really don't mind in that dimension if you can play a paganini as bright and exquisitely lyric and scintillating as in that way.

Albert

December 25, 2005 at 12:29 PM · Beautiful recording indeed...(incidentally, the Cd is available on amazon.fr).

It reminded me that Grumiaux was the first violinist I saw "live", in the Beethoven concerto, with the Strasbourg phil conducted by Alceo Galliera (they had recorded it a few years before that in London, I think). As I always did as a teenager, I had managed to sneak into the hall for the rehearsals.(I was able to see Oistrakh rehearsing the Brahms some time later)

I do not see many similarities between G. and Francescatti's styles, however. After all, F.was taught by his parents, and his father was a pupil of Sivori, himself one of the only pupils of Paganini.F. lead the largest part of his career in the US., whereas Grumiaux did not travel much outside Europe.For that reason, there are many live recordings in the archives of most european radios, and it is a pity that so few are available.

So far, the french radio has only published 2, one is the famous recital in Besançon with Clara Haskil (I think G.'s greatest musical achievement was his partnership with her), the other is G.playing Mozart's K.216 concerto under Casals art the Prades festival. The funny part is that some kind of insect was flying around the mike during the whole first movement, and you hear the buzz very distinctly!! But the recording is otherwise highly recommandable.

There are a few other Prades performances available (published by Music and Arts): Mozart piano quartet #1 (with Casals,Katims and Kappell!!) and a Beethoven sonata also with Kappell.

December 25, 2005 at 03:47 PM · From Albert Wong

"I think this is the most interesting topic / discussion and probably the most meaningful one that I ever come across in violinist.com. Arthur Grumiaux, a link from Vieuxtemps, Ysaye, Alfred Dubois ( full name is memtioned as afraid of not much people knowing him ) is the best representative of the 20th century Belgian school playing."

And of course, AG was a student of Enescu.

"Talking about this 1958 brahms recording I remember I have the CD. It's partnered with another concerto on a Philips label disc ( Japanese version ). The cover you show here could be from a very old release."

I'll look for it there. I went to amazon.fr but there was no detailed information there on the CD they advertised so I was reluctant to order. Yes, the cover I put up was from an American release on Epic Records from the 1950s. I have seen a European release with a different pic of a flower, on eBay.

"However I don't remember much of his playing here and thanks for reminding me that I own such a wonderful CD from G. True, G is quite intense and ardent here and some places even like screaming out on strings ( probably due to poor audio effect on my computer, I'm going to play it on the vaccum tube amplifier tonight ) Yet he plays everything gloriously."

Yeah, when I listen real close, I can hear the bow contact fail on several high notes--sounded like he just ran out of rosin! The recording I made does suffer somewhat from some minor distortion, not sure what the source of it was. It might have been my preamp.

I wonder how he achieves his regal, royal effects. Partly it seems to be the very deep vibrato on some of his chording, and I suspect that his willingness to vary the time at will adds to it, but I would welcome any education from others on that. The net effect is one of extreme drama, what I find so sorely lacking in many modern performances.

I still wonder if anybody told Brahms at the time that he was "on the cusp between the Classical and Romantic Periods," and if he would have been offended or delighted at an apoproach such as this. My gut feeling is that, given that the score does contain markings for dramatic tempo variations, Brahms might have approved of AG's ability to add many more of them >G<, and could not have given a rat's patootie what period he was writing in. Some of the heavy hitters on this list have, possibly to be polite, not weighed-in on this issue.

"I'm glad that Grumiaux is still remembered nowadays. We should educate more people, especially young students, to have a knowledge that Grumiaux is an unique symbol that nobody should miss him out."

I'm hoping that my post has helped to achieve that. Pride goeth before a fall, however.

Albert and Sander, no, I have not heard any of the performances you recommend, but I'm glad to know about them and I will get them. Thank you so much for pointing me to them. Sander, I tried to order the Francescatti/Beethoven this morning from Biddulph, but my shopping cart kept showing up with a double charge. I will call them when it's not Christmas and try it that way.

Happy Holidays to all!

Scott H.

December 25, 2005 at 07:22 PM · OK, Scott: I ordered the Beethoven not directly from Biddulph, but unfortunately I forgot where I ordered it from. But I did find the sight on the Internet. I'd try a little searching around. Good luck on trying to get it.

Happy holidays. Sandy

December 26, 2005 at 02:45 PM · Scott: Incidentally, there are 2 anecdotes about Brahms that are relevant to the question of whether he would have been open to different interpretations of his Concerto.

He heard performances by Ysaye and by Huberman. Supposedly he said to Ysaye, "So, it can be played that way, too." And it is well documented that he really liked Huberman's performance. Huberman was very young at the time, and (so the story goes) he and Brahms spent most of the time after the concert discussing toy soldiers. Anyway, Brahms may very well have appreciated many of the great violinists of the last hundred years.

December 26, 2005 at 02:51 PM · Verrrrry interesting! Brahms was kind of a meathead too: When Bruch finished his Gm Concerto, he played it on the piana for Brahms, then asked him what he thought. Brahms thought a minute, then reached over to finger the score. "It's written on very nice paper," he said.

December 26, 2005 at 03:55 PM · Ah, yes, the Brahmsian sense of humor can best be described as sarcastic. My favorite is that some group played one of his quartets with the composer in the audience. Afterwards, one of the quartet members was trying to schmooz Brahms, who put up with it until the player asked (about the performance), "Tell me, Maestro, did you like the tempo?"

Allegedly, Brahms replied, "Yes, especially yours."

December 26, 2005 at 04:16 PM · Thank you, Sander. From now on, if someone complains that my sense of humor is a bit mean-spirited, I can simply reply that "No, it's Brahmsian."

December 27, 2005 at 01:53 AM · Absolutely. And, by the way, the Grumiaux is still magnificent.

For the Beethoven/Francescatti/Ormandy, try this site (it's where I ordered my copy from):

http://www.norpete.com/Main/SubCategory.asp?SubCatID=VCD&CatID=CDs

Cordially, Sandy

December 27, 2005 at 05:06 PM · You know, the more I listen to the Grumiaux, the more it sounds like it was done in one take. There are too many little things here and there that could have been edited if this was recorded with more recent technology. Anybody hear it as being edited?

And don't forget, my above message has the address for ordering the Francescatti.

December 27, 2005 at 05:38 PM · I hear no edits, and I have sharp ears. At least, not flat ears. I'll bet he stopped after the first mvmt though for some fresh rosin.

I'm ordering the Francescatti today; thanks again.

December 27, 2005 at 08:03 PM · OK, Great.

December 27, 2005 at 09:34 PM · (bump)

December 28, 2005 at 01:32 AM · Just a note regarding the comment about Grumiaux and Francescatti not having a similar style. Personally I see a similarity of both to Thibaud.

December 28, 2005 at 04:56 PM · True, in terms of whatever you would call that French sparkle or elan. But I'm sure you'll agree that Francescatti and Grumiaux (and indeed Thibaud) have such individualistic sounds that you can tell who is playing almost immediately.

December 29, 2005 at 12:41 AM · You know Sander, I mostly agree with that. But then take Thibaud's Vitali Chaconne and Francescatti's for instance. Of course you have to use some 'sound'(sic) judgment in comparing the two since one is old and with piano and the other is, at least, relatively, newer and with orchestra. But it is amazing nonetheless. The shifts, the rits/ralls/a tempos, are almost all the same.

With Grumiaux I hear it less, but his Mozart and Beethoven I think had that precision Thibaud had.

I like to do 'who is the violinist?' guessing games with friends. It's hard to do with older violinists because a big clue is the recording technology. I usually do good. But sometimes it's hard and it doesn't seem to matter if I've heard the recording before. For instance, if I was given a snippet of this Brahms by Grumiaux and say another by Szeryng, I can safely say I would probably have goofed.

That being said, wouldn't it be an interesting thread on violinist.com...cutting snippets from recordings (say of 3 or 4 violinists) and open it to guesses?!

December 29, 2005 at 01:00 PM · Rick, great idea. I think it would be entertaining and educational.

I guess what I'm responding to is the vibrato more than anything else as defining the difference for me. Also, I think it helps to have heard so many different performances by a particular violinist that you pick up his or her unique "voice" and concept of melody and individual of slides and so forth.

So even if two violinists have a basically similar "style," after a while as you become familiar with them, the differences start to loom larger.

I guess it's like meeting twins for the first time. At first you can't tell them apart, but as you get to know them as individuals, you begin to pick up the individual differences and you can tell them apart quickly.

December 29, 2005 at 02:55 PM · Thanks for the fantastic recording.

By the way, William Wolcott, if you still cannot download to your Mac, you might try pressing ctrl before you click on the download buttons. This should cause a menu of download options to appear on the screen.

December 29, 2005 at 03:29 PM · Noel,

I'm thrilled that so many people have downloaded this puppy and are enjoying it. I never dreamed there would be so much interest! I was about to come on here and ask you all if I could clear it from my server, but it appears there are still people coming back from vacation, or whatever, stumbling across this for the first time.

I have yet to see any comments about the Concertgebuow on this record-- maybe we should kick that around until this thread runs out of time. Other than the prominent and beautiful woodwind parts, I can't think why I love the orch. so much on this. I just do. Somebody educate me on that, OK?

December 29, 2005 at 05:34 PM · Hi, Scott: Yeah, the orchestra is GREAT on this. I've downloaded it again this morning (just to make sure I've got an extra copy).

December 30, 2005 at 01:40 AM · From Christian Vachon

"Scott, another fantastic Grumiaux release that just came out in recent months is the Tchaikovsky Cto and Bruch Scratch Frantically (Scottish Fantasy) - both great. Especially the Bruch - so nice to hear something different."

Christian,

It jut showed up in my mailbox! Funny how that works. Putting it on now....

December 31, 2005 at 09:34 AM · Hi - AG has two new recs. out. Comments please on these:- 1) Mozart VS K 482 (AG plays both parts), Brahms VS 2 & Grieg VS 3 (With I Hadju)

2) Beethoven VC (Galliera) & Viotti VC 22 (de Waart)

It is on Australian Eloquence. Website:-

www.buywell.com/eloquence

January 6, 2006 at 04:28 PM · UPDATE:

The CD of this Grumiaux/Brahms is available from Japan, as it turns out. I finally heard from Decca, and they did not address my request to release it in the U.S. However, they pointed me to this page:

http://www.hmv.co.jp/product/detail.asp?sku=173496

I don't know if I have enough "yen" to oder it.

January 6, 2006 at 05:08 PM · 2,666 yen?

January 6, 2006 at 05:50 PM · Well, my problem with it is that there are no track listings, no dates, no nuttin'. One would have to take Decca's word for it that this is the recording in question. It also supposedly includes the (reportedly) stunning recording of the Beethoven from the same, or following year, same personnel, so it's tempting.

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