Monday, March 29, 2010
Szigeti: 20th Century Masterpieces
These performances by Joseph Szigeti, made in 1952 and 1959, were drawn from 3 different LPs. I owe the Bartok and Ives Sonatas to a Japanese pressing of a Philips disc - 13PC-95. The Cowell Sonata came from a Columbia Special Products LP in the Modern American Music Series. The work was dedicated to Szigeti, who worked closely with the composer during its composition, and who made this, its first recording, in 1952. The Webern 4 Pieces come from a Mercury LP MG50442.
Henry Cowell 1st Sonata for Violin and Piano with Carlo Bussotti, piano
Bela Bartok 2nd Sonata for Violin and Piano with Roy Bogas, piano
Charles Ives 4th Sonata for Violin and Piano with Roy Bogas
Anton Webern Four Pieces Op. 7 with Roy Bogas
By 1959 Szigeti was showing serious signs of technical decline owing to the progression of debilitating bone disease and arthritis. Nonetheless, there is a musical personality of strong convictions and a spirit of dedication to the works at hand that shines through these performances, making them indispensable to the Szigeti aficionado and a decided benefit to anyone with ears to hear music making that goes beyond ailing arms and fingers. The Bartok and Ives are works Szigeti recorded in his prime, being the first to record the Ives, and I highly recommend those performances; but these late efforts are justified by the musical intelligence of Szigeti's restless imagination, while the short Webern pieces, of unparallelled abstract beauty, are played with an intellectual and emotional commitment that belies the notion that the school of musical thought from which they arose is deservedly dead. In Szigeti's capable, though by now arthritic hands, this music gains the living breath it deserves.
The recording information is contained in a separate text file, available with the other linked content.
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