Ferenc Fricsay

Brahms: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 2

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Although frequently compared to other greats of the same era, violinist Gioconda de Vito is not remembered as widely today as perhaps she should be. Much of this lack of recognition can be attributed both to her rather conservative repertoire and her dislike of making studio recordings. This rare example finds de Vito in studio with conductor Ferenc Fricsay conducting the RIAS Symphonie-Orchester. Both conductor and soloist share a penchant for clarity, precision, and strict adherence to the score. This is not to say that the performance is rigid or unmusical, but rather that it takes Brahms' wishes very much to heart. De Vito's playing is spectacularly energetic and spontaneous, so much so that attentive listeners will notice her getting the jump on Fricsay at a couple of entrances. She is not a flawless technical player by any means, but her exuberance and understanding of the musical content of the score is quite engaging. Restored sound quality of the monaural recording is surprisingly clear and warm.

The album continues with Fricsay's vivacious reading of Brahms' Second Symphony. As in the Violin Concerto, Fricsay pays close attention to the details of the score. The second movement, marked Adagio ma non troppo, begins at a faster clip than most recordings that sometimes get bogged down. The entire last movement is filled with pure adrenaline, and the coda is sheer excitement and exuberance. Sound quality in the symphony is not as clear; the middle and lower registers of the strings are frequently lost, and the dynamics of the fourth movement's coda overpower the microphones used.

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