Giaconda de Vito, violin = BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D; BACH: Double Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1043; HANDEL: Sonata for 2 Violins; Sonata for Violin and Continuo, Op. 4, No. 1; VIOTTI: Violin Concerto No. 22 in A Minor; VITALI: Chaconne — Idi Idis

by | Aug 25, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Giaconda de Vito, violin = BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D, Op.
61; BACH: Double Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1043; HANDEL: Sonata for 2
Violins, Op. 5, No. 2; Sonata for Violin and Continuo, Op. 4, No. 1;
VIOTTI: Violin Concerto No. 22 in A Minor; VITALI: Chaconne — with
Yehudi Menuhin, violin (Bach, Handel, Op. 5)/ George Malcolm,
harpsichord (Handel)/ Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra/Vittorio Gui
(Viotti)/ Philharmonia Orchestra/Alberto Erede (Vitale)/ Philharmonia
Orchestra/Anthony Bernard (Bach)/

IDI IDIS 6443/4  73:17; 61:37 (Distrib. Qualiton)****:

Some fascinating restorations from the legacy of gifted Italian
virtuoso violinist Giaconda de Vito (1907-1994), whose edgy, nervous
playing could make real sparks fly. Of the several precious
inscriptions, two personal favorites are the wonderfully full account
of the Viotti Concerto in A Minor, from a London studio recording of
1953, with the renowned opera conductor Vittorio Gui. Utilizing a much
fuller orchestral edition than is most conductors’ wont, this
realization must have inspired Isaac Stern’s later account with Ormandy
for CBS. A grand line and a searching and biting attack mark de Vito’s
approach in the Viotti, which has a lilting, pulsating energy — an
obvious influence on the Concerto in D of Brahms. After a thoroughly
songful Adagio, the peppy, bouncy Agitato assai has both performers
sailing, with crackling, crisp changes of high registration from de
Vito. The other favorite is the 1953 Bach Double Concerto with Yehudi
Menuhin, a performance of controlled poise and elegance, in which both
players seem equally admiring of each other’s sound. The 1948 Vitale
Chaconne is taken from noisy acetates but the approach is wonderfully
authentic, a grandly rich sonata di chiesa with organ and cello
continuo, a graduated sense of harmonic, textural and dramatic
labyrinths. The Handel Sonata from Op. 4 is the same work favored by
Milstein and Szigeti, here realized with that poignant, lyrical flair
which made de Vito such a powerful exponent of Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Collectors are well familiar with de Vito’s status as a soloist whom
Furtwaengler chose for many of his Italian concerts in Milan and Turin.
From somewhere in the period of the early 1950s we now have a
resuscitated Beethoven Violin Concerto, a major work which de Vito
never inscribed commercially. Maintained by the de Vito family, the
inscription (recorded Turin in mono) had been discarded originally
because of surface ticks and pitch variations; de Vito herself had
marked the sleeve of one of the two discs “too slow” for the second
movement but “Good the rest.” 

The liner notes indicate that both conductor and orchestra remain
unknown, and that as many as 400 edits (by Danilo Prefumo) were
required, as well as de-noising processes, to restore a working degree
of textural clarity to the sound from the worn discs. The conception of
the Concerto is a large one (c. 47 minutes), and we can only speculate
as to whether a personality like that of De Sabata might be at the
helm. The orchestral tuttis are not small, and the phrases have a
clearly articulated arch, the tympani and string lines prominent. The
violin artistry is rapt and tender, a real labor of love. De Vito plays
her own cadenza based on one by Hubay, which relies heavily on the
five-beat motif with all kinds of added fioritura, a modal scale on the
opening phrases, double-stopping and harmonics, and long, lingering
segue to the orchestra’s plucked accompaniment. Despite the slow tempo
for the G Major Larghetto, de Vito maintains good tension, permitting
no sag in the musical line. There are intimate, meditative moments
worth the price of admission. There are pitch drop-outs however, so all
is not edenic. The last movement has momentum and girth, with some
close miking on de Vito’s violin that accentuates her tonal luster and
deft bowing. Again, in spite of some interruptive clicks and thuds,
this performance has a haunting presence.

–Gary Lemco

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