Saturday, 25 August 2012

Joseph Szigeti

I have long had a soft spot for the playing of Joseph Szigeti (1982-1973). A pupil of Jenö Hubay, he came from those rich lands in Central Europe that also gave us Joseph Joachim, Leopold Auer, Jenö Hubay, Carl Flesch … and many, many other violinists. One doesn't go to Szigeti for lush sounds, vibrant vibrato or swooning melodies; his playing is characterised by an uncompromising honesty and refusal to play to the gallery. Even after nearly 80 years, his recording of Prokofiev's first violin concerto still gives rise to warm admiration. A recent 10-CD box from Membran cost me the princely sum of £9.85 and is a veritable treasure trove of around 10 hours of Szigeti's playing. His peak period was probably 1915-40 after which his technique declined (arthritis). The earliest recordings I have of him date from 1908 (playing Hubay, and Bach). Like so many of that generation, he missed out on the better years of recording technology but, with Szigeti's playing, the absence of a plummy sound does not matter too much; the essence of Szigeti comes over loudly and clearly.


Anonymous said...

some older private recordings from hotel room are mentioned in "with Strings Attached" by Joseph Szigeti.

Anonymous said...
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