Magazine article Gramophone

Concert Revelations Captured on Tape: Violinist Endre Wolf and Conductor Michael Gielen Are Celebrated in Two New Box-Sets

Magazine article Gramophone

Concert Revelations Captured on Tape: Violinist Endre Wolf and Conductor Michael Gielen Are Celebrated in Two New Box-Sets

Article excerpt

The accomplished Hungarian-born violinist Endre Wolf, son of a seamstress and a watchmaker, pupil of Hubay as well as a distinguished pedagogue, died in 2011 aged 97, having spent the war years leading the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in neutral Sweden and much of the post-war period in the UK as Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Danacord has already issued a two-disc set of Wolfs commercial Tono recordings 1949-51 (DACOCD714/15) but the sequel 'Endre Wolf in Sweden', a six-disc collection of studio and private recordings, is a good deal more interesting. Sadly one of the most fascinating documents is also by far the worst recorded, so much so that at its outset a 1944 Sibelius Concetto under Sixten Eckerberg sounds like an electronic re-composition. Things do improve, and Wolf, obviously under the influence of Heifetz, fairly whizzes through the piece, muddling here and there though he emerges as triumphant in the end. The Concerto is preceded by The Oceanides where Wolf leads the orchestra.

The Heifetz parallel extends to two recordings with the cellist Erling Blondal Bengtsson: Kodaly's Duo where the finale's folk-like central section is just a little rushed and Brahms's Double which in terms of its overall approach and tonal profile is very much like the Heifetz-Piatigorsky-Wallenstein recording on Sony/RCA. Bartok's Solo Sonata is drawn with very broad brush strokes while duo sonatas with pianist Hans Leygraf--Mozart's K378, Beethoven's Op 96, Brahms's Op 100 and Bartok's Second (as well as Webern's Op 7 pieces and Franck's D minor Sonata with Eckerberg at the piano)--are musically compelling.

Concertos on offer include a strongly voiced Beethoven (conducted by Sergiu Comissiona) and a valuable programme of three Swedish violin concertos, by Erland von Koch, Sven-Erik Back and Hilding Rosenberg, the last two being the most impressive musically. Wolf s Bach (Partitas Nos 1 and 3, Concertos Nos 1 and 2) is generally measured and meaningful, the A minor Concerto taken down from the same March 1961 concert as the Back, the conductor for the occasion, Michael Gielen.

Gielen, who announced his retirement in 2014, is the subject of a new 'Edition' on SWR Music, much of the First Volume (with the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg, the Saabrucken Radio Symphony and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony) being released for the very first time. Haydn and Mozart come off especially well, Gielen making the most of the varied moods and colours inherent in the eight-movement Thamos, King of Egypt which emerges as an absorbing masterpiece--or at least that's how you feel for its 41-minute duration. …

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