Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Grumiaux and Primrose in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante

Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola K 364 is one of the great works in Mozart's output, and a favourite of string players. Often it is surprisingly difficult to bring off with violinist and violist well matched and balanced. I listened to it today in a 1955 off-air recording from West German Radio, with the Cologne orchestra conducted by Otto Ackermann, courtesy of a very good Dutch friend. Violinist was the superb Arthur Grumiaux, for me probably the greatest violinist of the previous century in terms of combined violin playing and musicianship. Viola player was the technically superb William Primrose, a controversial figure with me since he all too often sounds like a jumped-up violinist playing a violin tuned a fifth lower. Here, however, Cologne and Grumiaux appear to have had a benign influence on Primrose, who matches Grumiaux beautifully throughout. The sound is “big Mozart” of the 1950s. Sadly, they don't play like this no more.

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