Two more performances from Bridge’s ongoing issue of Library of Congress concerts, these featuring the great Polish virtuoso Artur Balsam (1906-1994) in the keyboard role in mainstream quintet repertory. The Schubert Trout (26 April 1953) is a jolly jaunt, with buoyancy and song the order of the day. Collectors will be reminded of the equally fine rendition the Budapest gave for CBS records with another outstanding Polish artist, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, with virtually the same personnel. The sound at the LOC is a bit distant, the microphone placement near the four strings, perhaps to maintain more equality of tonal weight, although Balsam keeps a light hand on the proceedings. His exposition of the Forelle theme has a gentle lilt, thoroughly Viennese. Mischa Schneider’s cello projects a lovely song early in the Allegro finale, with the symphonic writing becoming ever more intense, to the point that the ensemble’s powerful landing at the cadence ending the first section of Schubert’s bipartite structure elicits a bit of premature applause from the grateful audience. You’ll know when it’s time to clap.
Violinist Jac Gorodetzky joins the Budapest for the Franck Quintet (18 December 1953), a work whose lugubrious beauty and fervid intensity find a gentle, often silken realization this evening. Roisman’s wiry violin tone dominates in the first movement, along with the stalking figures in the piano part, then the sudden onrushes, tutti, of superheated emotion. If the middle movement Lento con molto sentimento throbs with smoldering ardor, the finale exudes all kinds of steamy, post-Tristan passion, sweeping us to an ineluctable, molten peroration. The plastic balance of taut emotionalism and the desire for “help for pain” makes this performance a rendition of moment. Highly recommended to connoisseurs of fiery chamber music ensemble.