Ricci/Sargent: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Op. 35 (rec. 1950) - Decca LXT 2509
Jacket GOOD / LP GOOD / German pressing
This handsome gatefold LP from Decca (LXT 2509, German pressing, 'Langspiel-Platte' orange/gold label, mono – no stereo edition exists) features Ruggiero Ricci's thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 35, recorded in 1950 with Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London.
Wrote critic Jonathan Woolf for MusicWeb-International.com upon the Pearl CD release of this performance: "Ruggiero Ricci recently (2002) announced his retirement from the concert platform after a lifetime’s performing. Slightly younger than Menuhin, with whom he was sometimes contrasted, he has a huge discography to his credit ranging from standard repertoire through finger-busting gymnastics to works on the esoteric fringe of the contemporary repertoire. The recordings here are from what sleeve-note writer and noted collector, Raymond Glaspole, calls Ricci’s 'years of maturity' – that is, his early thirties. No longer the scintillating prodigy not yet the middle aged soloist, these Decca LPs find him in something approaching prime form. I have to admit that I was surprised how good the Tchaikovsky sounds. He was to re-record the work with Sargent – on that occasion with the LSO – a decade later but back in 1950, in these excellent sounding discs, he evinces real style and his own brand of bravura in the Concerto. There are some fairly typical of-their-time textual emendations to the score but there is much to admire in Ricci’s typically forthright and extrovert performance.
The galvanizing violin run at 4.50 in the first movement, with its rubato maybe slightly theatrically imposed, is exciting (but doesn’t it seem just slightly artificial?). Ricci’s vibrato is exceptionally fast, as ever, though it’s not, in this recording, as violently oscillatory as it could sometimes become and sounds here under firm control. He is vibrant, expressive with no gauche slides and good finger position changes. Sargent is an excellent foil for Ricci and shapes the work with excellently contoured understanding. Listen, for example, at 4.10 into the second movement where both soloist and conductor prepare the lyrical argument with superbly timed aplomb. Maybe there is some rather smeary playing from the soloist and a little – surely forgivable – sentimentalising though Ricci’s attitude to such criticism would doubtless be as robust as his playing – he was once quoted as saying that it was "better to be a prostitute than a nun" and, translated into musical terms, that meant overplay rather than understate. The finale is steady and effective, one small intonational blemish aside, albeit that it’s not the most convulsive and propulsive account or one that I’d assumed it would be."
The condition of the jacket is GOOD. There is significant discoloration and edgewear, as well as bumping at corners. However, there are no seamsplits or owners' markings the whole remains solid and presentation worthy– overall, still a decent copy.
The condition of the LP itself is GOOD. There are no spindle trails. There is light surface noise, but in general the surfaces are clean and quiet – a decent collector's copy.