Magazine article Strings

Beethoven and Schumann Violin Concertos (with Mozart's Adagio in E, K. 261). Georg Kulenkampff, Violin; the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans Schmidt Isserstedt, Cond

Magazine article Strings

Beethoven and Schumann Violin Concertos (with Mozart's Adagio in E, K. 261). Georg Kulenkampff, Violin; the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans Schmidt Isserstedt, Cond

Article excerpt

Beethoven and Schumann Violin Concertos (with Mozart's Adagio in E, K. 261). Georg Kulenkampff, violin; the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans SchmidtIsserstedt, cond. Dutton CDEA 5018 (distributed by Harmonia Mundi).

Georg Kulenkampff (1898-1948) is not a name much discussed today, but in the 1930s and '40s he was one of the few firstrate German instrumentalists to sustain a solo career. His Aryan blood helped in the late '30s, but he was exiled during World War II to Switzerland, where his impressive gifts as a teacher allowed him to succeed the venerable Carl Flesch at the Lucerne Conservatory in 1943. He died of encephalitis later in the decade, shortly after making a noted Decca recording of the Brahms violin sonatas with a very young pianist named Georg Solti; with the recent passing of that famous name, perhaps their recording is due for reevaluation.

The works on the present disc, recorded in 1936 and '37 by the Telefunken label, each enjoyed a separate fame. The New Grove Dictionary praises Kulenkampff's Beethoven Concerto as being "a musician's performance suffused with a classical serenity," and it's genuinely impressive what this artist could achieve despite, or because of, a limited taste for fireworks and show. His tone has a reassuring purity and he gets splendid results just from doing the basic things right: precisely calibrated trills, expressive detache bowings. He serves the composer first, and one can easily hear why this interpretation was treasured as one of the best of the prewar era; it's a must for anyone preparing the piece. …

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