Op. 26; BRUCH: Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 – Arthur Grumiaux, violin
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Jan Krenz (Tchaikovsky) and Heinz Wallberg
(Bruch) conductors – PentaTone Multichannel RQR Series SACD 5186 117 71:33****:
PentaTone has entered the sacred chambers of Philips Records,
resurrected their stereo and multi-channel (4.0 quadraphonic) archives,
here the 1973 Bruch and 1975 Tchaikovsky inscriptions made by the
eminent Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986) – the aristocrat
among the great fiddlers. The Tchaikovsky Concerto is realized
with great verve and attention to color details, and the score is given
to us nearly complete with repeats, especially in the Allegro
vivacissimo finale. The sonic patina possesses richness and depth of
field, so that the flute-violin interchange at the opening of the
second movement is quite vivid, especially in surround sound. The
affecting Serenade melancolique of 1875 communicates intensity without
having become maudlin.
Audiophiles will covet the kaleidoscopic color effects of Bruch’s
Scottish Fantasy, in a magical rendering that is light, lithe, and rife
with instrumental niceties of violin, harp, bassoon, and French horn.
Based on any number of Scottish folk-melodies, the Bruch piece, too,
can easily descend into a cloying mass of sentimentality.
Grumiaux, however, projects such a direct sweetness and conviction into
the work, eschewing any undue lingering over phrases, that the plastic
charm of the work unfolds like an elegant kilt. The rousing finale, a
melange of bagpipe, violin, harp, and tutti effects, simply urges one
to don a tam and join the dance. PentaTone seems committed to explore
this Philips legacy further, to which I say full speed ahead!