Grumaiux/Davis: Mozart Violin Concertos K. 207 & K. 218 (rec. 1962) - Philips 6580 009
Jacket EX / LP NM / French pressing
This lovely LP from Philips (6580 009, “Universo” series, French pressing, green/white label, stereo) features Arthur Grumiaux's peerless readings of Mozart's Violin Concertos No. 1 in B-flat Major K. 207 and No. 4 in D Major K. 218, warmly accompanied by Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Both works were recorded in the warm acoustics of Walthamsow Assembly Hall, London, during 11-13 April 1962. Incidentally, Grumiaux plays his own cadenzas in K. 207. These are classic accounts that have lost none of their freshness or appeal, the playing unfailingly natural and unerringly stylish, with beautifully balanced analog sound to boot – outstanding!
Of Grumiaux’s complete Mozart cycle with Davis, the wonderful critic Michael Jameson wrote for ClassicsToday:
“Arthur Grumiaux's Mozart performances glowed, but his interpretations were always free of artifice and affectation, making his survey of the five violin concertos (it's seldom been out of the catalog) a prime contender even now. Of particular interest is the G major concerto K. 216, where Grumiaux pays tribute to one of the greatest representatives of the Franco-Belgian school (to which he belonged) by performing cadenzas by Ysayë, a welcome change from the customary Joachim or Sam Franko (Perlman's choice) alternatives. In the other concertos the cadenzas are either by Grumiaux himself, or Joachim, but in all respects these performances are outstandingly refined and beautiful. Their high quality is exemplified by the effortlessly graceful transition achieved in the sometimes unforgiving finale of K. 218. It's one of many passages that sort out the leaders from the also-rans, and with Grumiaux everything is perfectly balanced and controlled, so the shift from Andante to Allegro seems completely natural. In another example, there's tremendous sweep and power, but no loss of Classical poise in the much broader opening movement of Concerto No. 5 K. 219.
“If there's a downside, it would be that the accompaniments by Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra haven't the neatness of ensemble among the strings nor the warmly idiomatic oboe, bassoon, and horn sonorities of the scaled-down Vienna Philharmonic under Levine for Perlman on DG. Perlman's readings are plainer than Grumiaux's (although tonally beautiful); there's neither the fastidious clarity (a prime attribute of Franco-Belgian violinists) in outer movements nor the immaculately groomed elegance of phrasing in slow movements. Perlman's DG set included the Rondos as fillers, but Philips offers the more substantial and engrossing choice of two complete sonata performances (K. 454 in B-flat and K. 526 in A) from Grumiaux and Clara Haskil, recorded in 1956. Despite the above-mentioned concerns over the LSO's playing in the concertos, Grumiaux's Mozart cycle remains largely unchallenged, and Philips' latest digital transfers sound exquisite.”
Wrote esteemed critic Rob Cowan in the November 2003 issue of The Gramophone:
"I was once told on good authority that Heifetz was a keen admirer of Grumiaux’s art, and little wonder. Like Heifetz, Grumiaux was a master of subtle shading, a disciplined stylist with a warm heart whose immaculate musicianship, silken tone and innate composure benefitted everything he played."
This album was produced by Vittorio Negri. Though not as sought after as the original LP, this fine “Universo” series re-issue arguably offers smoother sound with no loss in fidelity.
There are excellent liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in French only. The striking cover photo/design is similarly uncredited.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is EXCELLENT. The only flaw barring a NM grading concerns minor corner wear and slight creasing – overall, an excellent collector’s copy.
The condition of the LP is near-MINT and playback is superb – overall, a truly fine collector's copy.