Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Arthur Grumiaux Plays Beethoven Mendelssohn Violin Concertos |
EMI Classic Archive
Actors: Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Georges Pludermacher
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Finally: footage of the belgian poet!
Scott68 | Columbus, Ohio United States | 02/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The following is a brief glob of information I have compled about the life and career of Mr Grumiaux:He was born in Belgium in 1921 and first showed an interest in the violin at the age of three and his first concert took place at the age of five. A year later he was admitted to the Conservatoire at Charleroi where he studied violin and piano. He remained there until the age of eleven having gained a premier prix for both violin and piano. Studies then continued at the Conservatoire in Brussels where Grumiaux continued violin under the guidance of Alfred Dubois who was a pupil of the legendary violinist Eugene Ysaye and at fourteen he won the premier prix for violin with distinction. Further prizes followed and in 1939 Grumiaux attended Enescu's masterclasses in Paris, in the same year he was awarded the Henri Vieuxtemps and François Prume prizes and was given, in 1940, the Prix de Virtuosité by the Belgian government. His debut in 1940 was almost immediately followed by the German invasion of Belgium. During the war he gave no performances but played chamber music with friends. Eventually, producer Walter Legge heard him and immediately offered him engagements in Europe and the UK. Legge also gave him a copy of Walton's Violin Concerto and after a mere three weeks of study for this phenomenally difficult concerto Grumiaux gave the first European performance in February 1945 with Constant Lambert conducting the National Belgian Orchestra. He later gave the first modern performance of Paganini's lost 4th concerto (discovered by Gallini), and eventually succeeded Dubois at The Brussels Conservatoire in 1949. Despite being afflicted with diabetes, Grumiaux continued a rigorous schedule of concert performances and recordings, primarily in Western Europe due to his aversion to flying, until his sudden death from a stroke in 1986. Belgium was extremely proud of its native son and presented Grumiaux with the title of Baron in 1973.I had alot of trouble collecting information about when his instruments were acquired but it is known that Grumiaux's Guadagnini was formerly owned by Alfredo Campoli from whom he bought it from privately (it is currently owned by Joseph Silverstein). He also owned the Garneri DelGesu ExHemmel made in 1744 and a Strad once owned by Zimbalist that was nicknamed "The Titan" by Albert Caressa, who was a dealer in Paris. His ability to acquire better sounding violins can be heard because it is evident by listening to his recordings that his tone and musicianship continued to improve over time.The following is a brief list of the pieces on this video that are played and my opinions of the performances presented:Mendelssohn Concerto-The first movement is rushed and has a nervous vibe to it but there are moments of true beauty that makes everything worthwhile. The second movement movement is played with incredible beauty, his vibrato a little excessive at first, I suspect from being nervous much like the first movement but I feel that he is more relaxed and more natural sounding as the movement progresses. In the third movement, it is noticeable that the soloist is not in synch with the orchestra and it almost seems awakward at times. Reagrdless of all this I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mr Grumiaux play this because of his gorgeous vibrato, perhaps this was just a bad night and he could have been intimidated by the cameras and knowing he was being broadcast on public television. Overall, I found his studio recording to be more satisfying. My favorite CDs of the Mendelssohn are with Perlman Heifetz and Szeryng. Compared to Kyung Wha Chung's video I feel Mr Grumiaux is slightly more expressive but the tempos and lack of coordination keep me from fully enjoying this performance. Compared to the Mintz video, the level of expression is similar. While the mix of orchestra and soloist is better on this video, the lack of coordination again interferes with my preference of what video I prefer to watch.Paganini Caprice 14-There are a few minor intonation flaws but no way near to the degree of the Ricci video. I really loved this performance, the main theme of this piece is so cool that even Milstein included it in his popular Paganiniana variations. If there is any doubt of Mr Grimaux's ability to play Paganini, just listen to the incredible playing on "The Best of Paganini" CD.Beethoven Concerto-The first thing that struck me about this is the drastic improvement in tone compared to the previous two videos, it looked like he was playing adifferent violin and this concept supports the idea that the level of quality of sound improved over time. The first movement is a little fast but becomes more natural after the opening. His handling of the Kreisler cadenza is relaxed and is not attacked aggresively like on the Kogan video. I also heard several flaws in intonation and a squeak or two, fairly minor flaws that most people would not even notice. Again the quality of sound was very impressive, Im totally in love with his sound making it all worthwhile. Even though there were some minor flaws present, I prefer this video to the studio recording found on the CD titled "Favorite Violin Concertos". I think I remember hearing the cadenza in the last movement was cut way short, if I remember correctly.Compared to the Szeryng Video-Szeryng was past his prime and for some reason I didn't like his Beethoven concerto much even on CD, I much prefer this video.
Compared to the Francescatti video-I like Grumiaux's tone and vibrato alot more and I can't really say why. I just seem to prefer the tone of Grumiaux alot more and his vibrato is not as wide and is more vocal-like.
Compared to the Kogan video-Grumiaux I feel has a more mature sound and plays the piece with less attack, I don't really like the piece treated as a virtuoso piece but thats just my personal preference.
Compared to the Mutter video-I thought she did a great job, missing a little with respect to intonation but she played with a great tone and great beauty. Obvioulsy the sound of Mutter is alot better because of when it was recorded and this is probably the best thing she ever did. I think overall maybe I like the Grumiaux a little more but I have to say I like both videos equally and for different reasons, two different sounds.
Compared to the Perlman video-Perlman was probably alot more accutate with playing in tune and with respect to the correct tempo and his cadenza was probably the best of all but I cant really say why I think his Beethoven is bland where the Grumiaux somehow is more meaningful in some way I can not explain.
Compared to the Ricci video-It is my opinion Mr Ricci is just plain hacking chords and doublestops throughout, but I find his video interesting and worthwhile. Certainly Ricci plays with less beauty than Mr Grumiaux.My favorite CD of the Beethoven has to be the live recording of Chung with Tennesdat but for videos I like this one and Mutter, I can understand why some people would disagree with me though. It is both difficult and risky to review such major repertiore such as this but here I am taking my chance.Bach Sarabande from the D min Partida -There are some serious intonation flaws here that are noticable at first, but then the playing again becomes more natural. The level of beauty is undeniable again and Mr Grumiaux presents several unique ideas of his own. It is amazing how you can listen to different recordings and they are all different. Despite the intonation flaws, I still prefer this performance to the Kogan video but I like the Ricci video a little more for this even though it is recorded with a home-movie-video-quality and the Ricci is also paired with the gigue as an added bonus.Bach Chaconne-I enjoyed this but this is not played in tune or with as much articulation as well as on the Milstein video. Well few if any can compare to Milstein when it comes to playing Bach and especially the Chaconne. I still enjoyed this anyways and somehow it seems more meotional although perhaps less intense.Bloch Nigun-Mr Grumiaux is well in his element here, playing with red hot musical passion and showing off his ability to speak with every note. I prefer the studio recording on the CD "Favorite Violin Encores" to this video. His tone is not that of the Perlman in Russia video but then whose is? Perhaps only Oistrakh can compare to a tone like that...Bonus: Giltis plays Saint Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccio-I really enjoyed this, this is one of the few virtuoso pieces I enjoy listening to, the lyrical melodies are so powerful they will melt your heart and you simply can not help but to fall in love with the music. I feel that Mr Gitlis is a real virtuoso with his own unique sound so it is pointless to compare him to anyone. Some people have mentioned to me this was not played well but I have to disagree. Certainly, I found this alot more convincing than the Stern performance from the Bell Telephone DVD. For CDs I like the Oistrakh best, that level of beauty is hard to achieve. I also enjoy recording by Kogan, Szeryng, and Heifetz.As you can see, I don not consider these performances to be essential to a player or collector's library but they are essential if you are a true Grumiaux fan like me. I give this DVD four stars: I would not buy this unless you are a real fan."
Yes, I'm a Bit Disappointed.
BLee | HK | 04/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The picture of Mendelssohn is deplorable. The film is not well preserved. We have what in photography is known as colour separation, with the background coming up to the foreground, and with a most exaggerated sillouete effect. And at times, the picture is shaking as though it is blacking out, and it happens quite a lot. Otherwise the photography is quite alright. The recorded sound of the violin is slightly below average: but with some effort we could still have a taste of its tone colour. Mendelssohn alone is worthy of all your money, for it is elegant if not poetic. In any event, it reminds us of Yasaye so much. The orchestra is good too, and the recorded sound is somehow better than the violin.And then we have the bonus of Bloch which is done marvelously so full of colour. The angle of the camera is excellent too giving us almost a full view of both the violinist and the pianist, and almost all their hands.
The photography of the Bach is very clear but quite unacceptable. First, the camera turns around the violinist in 360 degree almost non-stop. What is the point of seeing his back or the back of the violin? Worse still would be the frequent meaningless close-ups. Close-ups of part of the face, and a quarter or 1/5 of the violin when it is moving!! The recorded sound is not nice either. It reminds us of some of the latest recordings of Menuhin which is rather hoarse.As far as his Beethoven is concerned, well, the orchestra is doing an excellent job by giving all the support and fanfares to the violin. But somehow we don't see the majestic or heroic Beethoven we long to see not even in the last movement. At least I expect some more sensiblity if not freshness. The photography of this piece is quite good though. The Gitlis part is amazing as well as exciting. But it won't surprise me if some viewers would prefer Isaac Stern instead.But don't be misled, for I'm a big Grumiaux fan, and more often than not I even prefer him to Oistrakh. And I'm fascinated by his Mozart Sonatas with Haskil and I treasure a lot of his concerti. And as for this DVD, well, it depends. And I have no regrets nonetheless."