Classical Reissue Reviews

Ossy Renardy: The Complete Columbia Recordings — Music of CORELLI, PLATTI, HANDEL, SCHUBERT, PAGANINI, BURMESTER, VECSEY & SARASATE – Ossy Renardy, violin/ Walter Robert and Leo Taubman, p. – Pristine Audio

The assembled Columbia Recordings by Ossy Renardy from 1938-1939 reveal a fine-tuned artist of heightened sensitivity and burnished style.

Published on April 23, 2013

Ossy Renardy: The Complete Columbia Recordings — Music of CORELLI, PLATTI, HANDEL, SCHUBERT, PAGANINI, BURMESTER, VECSEY & SARASATE – Ossy Renardy, violin/ Walter Robert and Leo Taubman, p. – Pristine Audio

Ossy Renardy: The Complete Columbia Recordings — CORELLI: Sonata in E minor, Op. 5, No. 8; PLATTI: Sonata No. 1 in E Minor; HANDEL: Prayer from Te Deum; SCHUBERT: Sonatina No. 1 in D Major, D. 384; Sonatina No. 3, D. 408: Menuetto and Allegro moderato; PAGANINI: Sonata No. 12 in E Minor, Op. 3, No. 6; DVORAK: Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100; Slavonic Dance in G Minor, Op. 46, No. 8; BURMESTER: Serenade; VECSEY:  Caprice No. 2; SARASATE: Adios, montanas mias; 3 Spanish Dances – Ossy Renardy, violin/ Walter Robert and Leo Taubman, p. – Pristine Audio PASC 383, 73:53 [avail. in various formats at] ****:

The death 3 December 1953 of Austrian violinist Ossy Renardy (nee Oskar Reiss) in northern New Mexico robbed music of a vital, unique personality, a self-taught artist whose playing on his preferred Guarnerius brought pleasure to countless listeners, including those servicemen in WW II who attended any of the 490 USO concerts he gave. Producer and editor Mark Obert-Thorn assembles Renardy’s Columbia recordings inscribed 1938-1939 for the first time as one source.

The earliest of the performances, the Corelli Sonata (4 March 1938), features an eighteen-year-old in the CBS recording studio – with Leo Taubman at the piano – just two months after Renardy’s Town Hall debut. The four-movement Sonata in E Minor offers an attractively sweet violin tone, a lyrical expressiveness, and fine trill and ornamental economy. The line of the Sarabande (Largo cantabile) maintains a high polish without sag. The following Sonata No. 1 in E Minor by Giovanni Platti (1697-1763) was recorded With Walter Robert 7 November 1938 and 3 January 1939. The galant impulse in Platti often succumbs to formulaic writing, which Renardy’s conscientious playing can do little to alleviate. The Larghetto does convince us that Renardy’s singing tone conveys sincerity and ardor. In the faster movements, Renardy displays verve, deft fingering, and good taste without any sense of rushing matters.

From the 3 January 1959 session, we have several selections from Renardy that exhibit his gentle finesse. Renardy bequeaths us two movements from Schubert’s G Minor Sonatina, the Menuetto and Allegro moderato last movement. A gracious Viennese charm permeates movements, as required. Two Spanish Dances, Op. 22 by Sarasate spice our sense of Renardy’s cosmopolitan style: the Romanza Andaluza canters and sways in exotic and erotic suggestion.  The Jota Navarra urges an earthier tread, a real flamenco gesture in high harmonics and pizzicati. If the noble figures that Renardy draws lack some of the vitality that Ricci brings, they retain the dignity and refinement of expression we know from Heifetz.

The session of October 8, 1938 brought forth a set of bravura miniatures from Renardy. The Handel Prayer derives from an arrangement from Carl Flesch. A perpetual lyric in liturgical colors, the Te Deum ethos imparts a solemn majesty. Paganini supplies Renardy with a sonata meant for violin and guitar: the Sonata No. 12 in E Minor from Op. 3. The music opens lyrically and restrained, but then it breaks into a lively dance-in-variations. The Serenade of Willy Burmester (1869-1933) offers a three-minute song that exploits various registers on the violin, including piercing harmonics. The Caprice No. 2 “Cascade” by Franz von Vecsey (1893-1935) proffers a perpetuum mobile etude in rapid, liquid motion. Then, the Hungarian ethos breaks forth, a noble melody over the piano arpeggios, the entire effort seamless and beautifully controlled.

The 7 November 1938 session yielded – besides the Platti sonata – a fine Schubert Sonatina No. 1 in D Major, sweetly lyrical with a driven impetus that does not become manic, while exhibiting Schubert’s approach to the Viennese salon style. Renardy’s next major recording date, January 13, 1939, produced the charming Dvorak 1893 Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100, the composer’s swan-song to his adopted America before leaving for his native Bohemia. Rife with Native American and Negro melodies, the piece exudes a natural affection from Renardy, who plays it with childlike reverence, as required. We might recall that the haunting Larghetto came to be known as “Indian Lullaby” when played separately by the likes of Fritz Kreisler.

Lastly, the few inscriptions from 29 March 1939 include Dvorak’s volcanic Slavonic Dance in G Minor, Op. 46, No. 8, a Furiant demanding the virtuoso treatment from Renardy, his bow bouncing as well as singing in Slavonic colors. Two Sarasate pieces follow: Adios, montanas mias captures the Spanish virtuoso-composer in a rare moment of nostalgia, a slow tango of some power to elicit images of Rita Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth. The Zapateado, Op. 23, No. 2, however, distributes flashes of lightning amidst the sparklers and spices of the Andalusian temperament. Happily, I turned the volume up on this one.

—Gary Lemco

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