BRAHMS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78; Horn Trio in E-flat Major; VIEUXTEMPS: Ballade et Polonaise – Arthur Grumiaux, violin/ Francis Orval, French horn/ Gyorgy Sebok, piano (Brahms)/ Dinorah Varsi, piano (Vieuxtemps) – PentaTone

by | Oct 24, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BRAHMS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78; Horn Trio in
E-flat Major, Op. 40; VIEUXTEMPS: Ballade et Polonaise, Op. 38 – Arthur
Grumiaux, violin/ Francis Orval, French horn/ Gyorgy Sebok, piano
(Brahms)/ Dinorah Varsi, piano (Vieuxtemps) – PentaTone Multichannel
SACD RQR 5186 155,  65:43 ****: 
 
Culled
from the Philips 1970s 4-channel quad catalogue, we have elegant
chamber music from Belgian violin virtuoso Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986)
refurbished in multichannel digitally compelling sound. Recorded at the
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam in February, 1976, the Brahms works maintain a
startling sense of intimacy. With the assistance of Hungarian piano
wizard Gyorgy Sebok, long noted for his collaborations with cellist
Janos Starker, Grumiaux delivers affecting renditions of Brahms, of
which the B Minor Adago from the Violin Sonata emanates a haunted,
funereal character. Each of the variants in the G Minor last movement
(taken from the Op. 59, no. 3 lied, Walle Regen, walle nieder) has a
distinct character, only grudgingly yielding to the tonal major at the
end, a kind of resigned acceptance of life going on.

The 1865 Horn Trio introduces us to the suave playing of Francis Orval,
who makes fine colors with his chosen instrument, certainly on a par
with the John Barrows and Dennis Brain renditions which remain nearest
my musical heart. The surround sound feature takes a firmer grip here
among three instruments, where antiphons from horn and piano enjoy more
separation than the violin-piano duo.  The playing of pianist
Sebok is thoroughly fluid, only a tad shy of the effervescence achieved
by Mieczyslaw  Horszowski in his collaboration with John Barrows
and Joseph Szigeti, the Mercury inscription of which I constantly await
reissue. The Grumiaux inscription projects a severe tension in the
Adagio mesto, ostensibly a dirge for the composer’s mother. The last
movement Allegro con brio takes us to the hunt, where Orval’s horn
intones with pomp and heraldic wit. The last piece, the Ballade and
Polonaise of Vieuxtemps, waxes alternately dreamy and spirited, the
latter polonaise clearly indebted to Chopin’s Op. 22. For those who
remember Grumiaux only for sustained elegance and demure objectivity,
this sterling yet snappy rendition should serve as dazzling tonic.

–Gary Lemco

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