Arthur Grumiaux

Brahms: Violin Concerto; Alto Rhapsody; Overture

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In Arthur Grumiaux's 1958 recording of Brahms' violin concerto, he brings his spot-on intonation and immaculate technique to bear on Brahms' immensely difficult concerto with tremendous ease. And with his seamless legato and dispassionate but dedicated interpretation, Grumiaux also expresses the work's heartfelt lyricism with consummate taste and musicality. Accompanied with complete professionalism by Eduard van Beinum and the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Grumiaux's performance is surely one of the best postwar recorded performances of the concerto.

The second half of the program, with van Beinum and the Amsterdam musicians' 1958 recordings of Brahms' Academic Festival and Tragic overtures and Alto Rhapsody, is well executed, with refined playing and admirably direct conducting, but it fails to catch fire. Here, the joy in the Academic Festival Overture's climax and the despair in the Tragic Overture's coda are both unconvincing. Aafje Heynis is an ardent if somewhat too opulent soloist in the Alto Rhapsody and van Beinum and the Concertgebouw provide her with no more support than is required by the letter of the score. Philips' stereo sound is consistently cool and clear, but a bit distant.

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