Sunday, March 14, 2010

Szigeti, Myra Hess, Hamilton Harty, Schubert and Brahms

The cover art, above, was modified in Photoshop to include the Brahms concerto, performed by Szigeti in 1928 with Hamilton Harty and the Hallé Orchestra. The original 10" record is a performance from 1952 of the Schubert Sonata No. 5 (Duo), Op. 162 for Violin and Piano with Szigeti and Dame Myra Hess, with whom his musical association began as a young man. Both these performances have been issued on CD, though not by the original companies, the Schubert on Music and Arts, the Brahms on the Symposium label, coupled with his recording of the Bloch concerto made with Charles Munch.

Szigeti's playing is, as always, imaginative and colorful, indeed revelatory. He and Dame Myra are very much on the same page in this performance, which is sweet without being cloying, and which certainly does not lack power. The performance of the Brahms concerto with Hamilton Harty shows the violinist at his technical peak and has been considered his best studio recording of the work by many. For me the 1945 recording with Ormandy may have a slight, personal edge, and the very late recording with Menges, although Szigeti is there in full technical decline, still has some appeal for me for its musical insights, even though the technical accomplishment of them is by now seriously compromised by arthritis and bone disease, which had started to afflict the artist many years before.

Enjoy these fine performances by this great violinist. Violin playing has changed, and although there are many fine fiddlers today, with, probably, technical advantages on the greats of the past, they just don't make them like this any more. Thanks be to sound recordings!

Link to all files
The files are labeled track 1-4 for the Schubert, 5-7 for the Brahms, for the single CD I made of them. They can easily be renamed for different burning choices.


  1. Downloading now. You're very busy. Sad to say I've never heard the Concerto performance. I do know the others you mention. Looking forward to finally hearing it. Thanks again.

  2. A comment by an anonymous contributor who nonetheless signed himself "Jerry" disappeared into cyberspace after I pushed the "publish" button. I hope it shows up, as it had some interesting information comparing my renovation of the Brahms with that of Music and Arts. My first movement is apparently some 30 seconds different from theirs; it is, however, within 3 seconds of the timing that my source LP (In the Columbia set commemorating Szigeti's 80th birthday) lists for the side. So I'm not sure what is going on. I had hoped to have a conversation with you, Jerry, so if you return and see this post, please know I did not delete your comment intentionally.

  3. 3rd movement of FLAC brahms concerto appears to be broken, I downloaded twice

  4. Thanks for letting me know. I'll reup -- probably tomorrow evening, as I'm on my way out the door right now.