Wilkomirska: Wieniawski No. 2 / Szymanowski No. 1 - Heliodor 89 672, superb copy
Jacket EX / LP NM / German pressing
This excellent LP from Heliodor (89 672, German DG pressing, plum label, stereo) features the wonderful violinist Wanda Wilkomirska in magnificent performances of Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 22 and Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 35.
In both works she is abetted by the brilliant accompaniment of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under the inspired direction of conductor Witold Rowicki. Both recordings were originally made by Polskie Nagrania in 1961 and sound superb here, with sound of great dynamic range, amplitude, and detail.
Wrote the veteran critic Edward Greenfield in his review for the June 1968 issue of The Gramophone:
“The two most celebrated violin concertos by Polish composers interpreted with suitable Polish passion by compatriots. Celebrated, one says, but on record at least both these highly attractive concertos have been badly neglected. The Szymanowski is not otherwise generally available at all, and the Wieniawski No. 2 has only recently reappeared in Ida Haendel's Czech-made version for Supraphon.
“That reason alone makes the coupling welcome, particularly at so reasonable a price, and despite reservations about the soloist and the recording quality it should not disappoint anyone. Wanda Wilkomirska is a young Polish violinist who has appeared here several times with Boulez conducting among others. Her live performances have always troubled me with a certain variability of intonation. For my ear she is too fond of sitting on the flat side of the note. The end of the Szymanowski brings a final ethereal solo that stretches my tolerance a little far, and in both concertos there are places where I begin to long for good centre-of-the-note certainty. But I am sure that many ears will not be troubled at all— this question is always more subjective than is generally recognized—and Wilkomirska without any doubt has real temperament, the sort of musical imagination that regularly refreshes a phrase in the details of shaping. She is not the most fluent practitioner of fireworks, but only in relation to the most outstanding international stars would one find fault. The Szymanowski in particular, helped by a brilliant accompaniment, has the authentic surge of emotion behind it.
“The sleeve describes the recording as "stereo transcription" and certainly the Wieniawski side sounds like mono rejigged through a two-channel system, a little dim on top as well as lacking in spaciousness. But the Szymanowski sounds like real stereo to me, and as is only right with so colourful a work it is recorded much more brightly. For that side alone the record is worth the money.”
Incidentally, there are excellent liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket. The cover photo 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 laminated jacket is EXCELLENT. There is slight bumping at corners, as well as minor shelfwear and mild discoloration to the rear panel. However, there are no seamsplits, bends, owners' markings, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, glossy, and very attractive – overall, this rates as an excellent collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is near-MINT. Although surfaces are not absolutely silent (and thus I have rated it NM vs. MINT), really this is a very fine copy and playback is truly superb. However, if you must have absolutely perfect surfaces, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, this rates as a very fine collector's copy.