Perlman/Previn: Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 - Electrola (gold label)
Jacket EX / LP EX / German pressing
This excellent LP from EMI · Electrola (1C 063-02 518 Q / SQ · Quadrophonie, German Electrola pressing, gold label – ED1, stereo) features Itzakh Perlman's atmospheric and haunting account of Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2, warmly recorded with conductor André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra in the fabled acoustics of London's Kingsway Hall, during 10/11 October 1973 (producer: Suvi Raj Grubb / engineer: Stuart Eltham).
Wrote the veteran critic T.H. in his review for the October 1974 issue of The Gramophone:
"How can one possibly choose between two such superb violinists and artists as Perlman and Szeryng, both so eminently suited to this concerto. It can only be a personal choice and I give that merely for what it is worth. I just slightly prefer Szeryng because in the simple lyricism of much of the first movement his playing seems to me to come more from the heart. Not that Penman's playing isn't also expressive but I feel it is an outward expressiveness rather than an inward one. The new recording is certainly first-class, especially in the due it gives to the percussion—an important ingredient of this score: but Szeryng also has a very good recording.
"There are those glissandi Bartok marks in the solo part in the first movement. Szeryng doesn't really make them at all, as if he thought such things vulgar. Perlman makes the most of them—and why not ?—as also does Suzanne Lautenbacher. The accompaniment under Previn is, as one might guess, spot-on; though one could hardly fault Haitink on this account. The much cheaper Lautenbacher/Springer record is in nothing like the same class. I did commend it when it appeared, since I thought it good enough to win listeners for this concerto but I can't say much more for it than that. Turnabout's recording hasn't the quality of the others, so I don't know how fair it is to comment on Miss Lautenbacher's tone. She is well-balanced with the orchestra but the overall sound quality of that doesn't come near that of the more expensive records.
"Talking of expensive records, this HMV is particularly so, since it has nothing else on it—another point which inclines me to Szeryng. Anyone who has ever seen a Bartok score knows his habit of putting down his own timings and he gives about 32 minutes for this concerto. That could surely allow it to be put on a single side these days. Here it uses all of both sides, with the first movement taking all of the first-12" 16".
"Szeryng's record also has the Violin Rhapsody No. 1: Lautenbacher has the same composer's Contrasts, three pieces for violin, clarinet and piano."
Incidentally, the striking cover art reproduces "Ungarischer Tanz Galgamacsan", held at the Néprajzi Museum in Budapest. There are informative liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket by Siegmar Keil, printed in both German and English.
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. There is slight bumping/wear at corners, as well as minor discoloration, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, or owners' markings, and the jacket remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – overall, this rates as an excellent collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although the surfaces are not absolutely silent, really this is a fine copy and the playback is quite superb. Those requiring CD silent surfaces are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as an excellent collector's copy.