Sunday, 18 December 2016

Ginette Neveu

Baden-Baden in 1949. Ludwig van Beethoven's violin concerto played by Ginette Neveu, with Hans Rosbaud conducting the SWR Sinfonieorchester, and German engineers recording the event. The tapes re-mastered in Germany and the performance re-released on the SWR Music label. This is a high point of European civilisation; Neveu's performance is a classic, with total absorption in the music (especially the slow movement), a complete absence of showmanship or dumbing down of classical music (as is so prevalent today). If I could play the Beethoven violin concerto, this is how I would want to play it. I have three different transfers of this performance, but I have not compared them. Anyone desiring to listen to this all-time classic performance need not worry about the quality of the 68 year old sound in the SWR re-mastering from the original tapes.

The second CD in this pack contains a performance of the Brahms violin concerto (same Baden-Baden studio) in 1948. The Brahms concerto's combination of vivacity and lyricism suits Neveu's playing admirably, and this is the fourth recording of the work I have from her (1946 in London with Dobrowen, 1948 in Hamburg with Schmidt-Isserstedt, 1949 in The Hague with Dorati). It was obviously her kind of concerto. The performance here is with the French Radio orchestra under Roger Désormière; hardly first choice in 1948, one feels, and the orchestra is often somewhat somnolent, especially at the opening of the work. But Ginette livens things up. The recording quality – particularly of the violin – is really excellent for 1948.The twentieth century boasted many, many superb violinists, but only a few really great ones. In my opinion, Ginette Neveu was one of the great ones.

No comments: