Menuhin/Kempe: Brahms Violin Concerto Op. 77 (rec. 1957) - Electrola SME 90017
Jacket EX / LP NM
This handsome LP from Electrola (SME 90017 / Die Stimme seines Herrn, German pressing, gold label, stereo) features Yehudi Menuhin's exalted rendition of Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 77, recorded on 5 September 1957 in the warm acoustics of the Grunewaldkirche, Berlin with Rudolf Kempe conducting the mighty Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Menuhin plays Kreisler's cadenza in the First Movement Allegro non troppo – Cadenza – Tempo I.
This is a richly moulded performance with Silvestri drawing accompaniment of the utmost strenght and refinement from the Vienna players. Happily, HMV provided opulent sound to match. This was Menuhin's first stereo recording of Op. 77 and it arguably remains his very finest. Indeed, wrote the esteemed critic Ivan March of EMI's CD release of this performance in his November 1991 review for The Gramophone: "The ambience of the Grünewald Kirche, Berlin conveys a fine body of tone to the Berlin Philharmonic and is flattering to the soloist. The performance is quite marvellous, demonstrating Menuhin's nobility of line at its most impressive: the reading has breadth, humanity and spontaneity."
And wrote Richard Osborne in the June 1975 issue of The Gramophone:
"There are at least two fine bargain versions of the Concerto in the catalogues— Kogan (HMV Concert Classics SXLP30063, 12/66) and Francescatti (CBS Classics 61123, 12/63)—but this noble reading, expressive and richly played, will obviously command the loyalties of many collectors. It is Menuhin at his best. A performance to be considered only alongside the performances of such players as Kreisler (World Records SR 115, 9/69) and Oistrakh (HMV ASD2525, 2/70). Should you need convincing, try the start of the slow movement: the oboe solo (golden-toned, as ever in Berlin) and Menuhin's first entry. The sounds Menuhin conjures from the music are full of a rich and apprehensive sense of the beauty of things. Menuhin handles the notes, you might say, as memorably as Keats handles words. Some may find Menuhin too preoccupied with the lyrical elements of the first movement; but everything is so beautifully adjusted (Kempe sees to that) that objection seems barren. It is a romantic reading, certainly : caressive, and intense, with beauties richly harboured; but it is never claustrophobic or selfregarding. And therein is another element of Menuhin's greatness. Sonically the record is obviously to be preferred to Menuhin's earlier recording with Furtwangler (HMV mono HLM7015, 6/73). All in all, a bargain that commends itself."
The reverse side of the jacket carries insightful liner notes by E. St., provided in German onlly. The striking cover photo of Menuhin and Kempe is uncredited.