Gioconda de Vito: Brahms Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 3 - La Voz de su Amo LALP 305
Jacket GOOD / LP EX
Note: There is a dealer's sticker to the lower-front panel, as well as a second one (similar to the first) on the label of Side 1.
This handsome and quite rare LP from La Voz de su Amo (LALP 305, Spanish pressing, red/silver semi-circle label – ED1, mono – no stereo edition exists) features the extraordinary Gioconda de Vito in inspired performances of Brahms's Violin Sonatas No. 1 in G Major Op. 78 and No. 3 in D minor Op. 108, recorded at EMI Studio No. 3, Abbey Road, London on 11 and 12 May 1954 with pianist Edwin Fischer, no less.
de Vito boasted a remarkable affinity for the music of Brahms, leaving exalted accounts of the Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 77 (rec. 1952 with Rudolf Schwarz and the Philharmonia Orchestra), the Double Concerto in A Major Op. 102 (rec. 1954 with cellist Amadeo Baldovino, conductor Rudolf Schwarz and the Philharmonia), and the Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major Op. 100 with pianist Tito Aprea (rec. 1956).
In Fischer she finds a splendid partner, the wonderful pianist matching her bar for bar. A great pity that the recorded legacies of de Vito and Fischer are not larger than they are.
Wrote the eminent critic Alan Sanders of the Testament CD release of these performances in his review for the December 1993 issue of The Gramophone: "The most sought after violin records of today are those made for HMV during the 1950s by two women artists, Johanna Martzy and Gioconda de Vito. Yet the strange fact is that no recording by either has been available in the UK for many years until now.
"The facts of De Vito's professional life are in themselves quite unusual. She was born in 1907, and enjoyed a successful career as a soloist and teacher when young, yet did not achieve an international reputation until after the Second World War. She married David Bicknell (who became head of EMI's International Artists Department), toured widely with great success, made a number of records and then, at the age of only 54, after little more than a decade as a top international artist, she retired.
"So why has she become such a legendary figure? I think this disc may tell us. She has a very expressive, questing, improvisatory style of playing, with slowish vibrato and generous, warm phrasing. Yet all these more outward qualities are put at the service of a keen, sensitive, controlled musical intellect. Not everybody will respond to her playing, but in its own way it is highly individual, and very remarkable. Brahms's autumnal, romantic composing style suits her very well, and her performances of all three sonatas are highly effective and sympathetic.
"In the First and Third she has the advantage of being partnered by a great pianist in Edwin Fischer. These were in fact his last recordings. His masterly shaping of the beginning of the First Sonata's slow movement, for instance, provides a perfect backcloth for De Vito, who responds in a heartfelt, profoundly expressive fashion. And there is something very touching in the quiet, contented, song-like manner in which she launches the opening material of this work's last movement.
"Apparently Fischer demurred slightly at first when asked to record with Dc Vito, saying that she had a great pianist already available in the shape of her regular partner, Tito Aprea. As we can hear in the Second Sonata, Aprea is indeed an extremely fine artist who stands up well to being juxtaposed with Fischer. The sound is very good in all three items."
The liner notes on the reverse side are by Andrew Porter – printed in Spanish only. The cover design is uncredited.