C1248. AMERICAN RARITIES, incl. LEON BARZIN Cond. National S.O., w.Joseph Fuchs: Violin Concerto (Lopatnikoff), Live Performance, 3 Dec., 1945; JOHN CORIGLIANO, w.Herbert Jaffe (Pf.): Violin Concerto in b (Elgar; piano accompanied reduction). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-170, (from rare existing copies, albeit with occasional technical flaws). [John Corigliano, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic from 1943 to 1966, appears to have privately recorded the Elgar Concerto in this piano reduction in his efforts to have this Concerto performed by the NYPO.] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Leon Barzin, was musical director of the New York City Ballet in the 1940's and 50's and the head of the National Orchestra Association for 36 years. Mr. Barzin played ‘a quiet but prominent part in the musical life of the country’, Harold C. Schonberg of The New York Times wrote in 1976, when Mr. Barzin retired from conducting. Mr. Barzin helped train several generations of conductors and symphony musicians, pushed for hiring of American conductors and women and black musicians. He also supported new music, particularly by American composers. Mr. Barzin helped to establish the New York City Ballet as one of the most musically sophisticated ballet companies in the United States.
Mr. Barzin had a distinctive podium style. 'He was one of the first of America's choreographic conductors’, Mr. Schonberg wrote in 1976. 'As a conductor, he was of the crouch and tiptoe school. We all looked forward to his entrances. A slim and aristocratic-looking man, he would glide through the orchestra like an eel around pilings in a dock, arriving at the podium in a sort of uninterrupted streak of motion’. During performances, Mr. Schonberg added, ‘he would not only crouch for pianissimos and get on tiptoe for fortes. He also would dance to the music - his beat was all curves. He was fluidity itself’’.''
- Jennifer Dunning, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 May, 1999
“Although Nikolai Lopatnikoff was highly respected by his peers and his scores were performed by such renowned conductors as Reiner, Koussevitzky, and Stokowski, little of his music is extant outside the 78s and LPs released in his lifetime. Lopatnikoff had earned a certain cachet by the early 1930s, having his First Symphony conducted by Bruno Walter, no less, and being played by the Berlin Philharmonic. The Estonian-born composer was then forced to move to London where he lived for about seven years, before emigrating to America. There he pursued an academic, teaching career in tandem with his compositional life.
The 1941 Violin Concerto was premiered by Richard Burgin with the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky. Burgin was the esteemed concertmaster of the orchestra and was a laudable exponent…. [here] the soloist is the redoubtable and long-lived Joseph Fuchs with the National Orchestral Association directed by the intrepid Leon Barzin, a broadcast survival that was made in 1945.
The Concerto is a bold, fulsome offering in three movements and relatively compact at twenty-two minutes. It opens in busy fashion, as if urgently keen to get on with things, and is full of terse, invigorating rhythmic thrust. It’s interesting to consider the influences. Lopatnikoff was living in London when Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto received its British premiere, courtesy of Robert Soetens – who’d also given the world première. He was in America when the Walton (end of 1939) and Barber (official premiere in February 1941 but performed earlier) were premiered and that’s the kind of thing to expect, with Prokofiev as the stronger contender. There’s a fine cadenza at the end of the first movement of the Lopatnikoff, and especially good is the series of very lyric-romantic vaults that the violin launches in the expressive slow movement. Here Fuchs’ vibrato widens noticeably. The finale is snappy, lively with incipient tension. A big military march threatens but there is also, interestingly, some Tchaikovskian wind figuration. The final furlong is marked by scampering but ultimately unsatisfying drama.”
Jonathan Woolf, musicwebinternational
“Joseph Fuchs, an American violinist long acclaimed for his vigorous, intelligent and technically assured performances of old and new music and for the quality of his teaching, was one of those select musicians admired as much by his peers as by audiences. He played not only the standard repertory but also works by such contemporaries as Stravinsky, Thomson and Hindemith. He pioneered in the performance of music by Ben Weber, Nikolai Lopatnikoff and Walter Piston. [A Ford Foundation grant in 1960 enabled him to commission Walter Piston’s Violin Concerto, the première of which he gave that year in Pittsburgh. Fuchs also gave the first performances of concertos by Lopatnikoff (1944–5), Ben Weber (1954) and Mario Peragallo (1955); of Martin’s Madrigal for violin and viola, dedicated to Fuchs and his sister Lillian (1947); of the revised version of Vaughan Williams’s Violin Sonata, with Artur Balsam (1969), and of the posthumous American première of Martin’s Sonata for two violins and piano (1974).]
‘Joseph Fuchs is the kind of violinist who makes you listen not to himself but to the music, and there is no higher compliment you can pay an artist’, Raymond Ericson wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES after a 1960 recital at Town Hall.
Joseph Fuchs studied with the noted Franz Kneisel at the Institute of Musical Art, now the Juilliard School, and graduated in 1918. He gave his New York début recital in 1920 at Aeolian Hall. In 1926 Mr. Fuchs was appointed concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, a post he held until 1940. After Cleveland, he resumed his solo career. He gave his last recital, at Carnegie Hall, in 1992 and his last public performance, at the Juilliard School, in 1995 [at age 95].
He often appeared in concert with his sister, Lillian Fuchs, a violist. Mr. Fuchs also collaborated regularly with the pianist Artur Balsam and the cellist Leonard Rose. Mr. Fuchs was a founding member of the Musicians Guild, a chamber music organization that presented many concerts during the 1940s and ‘50s. A true upholder of the Kneisel tradition, he called chamber music his 'true love’. He became a professor of violin at the Juilliard School in 1946 and held the position until his death. He was a founder of the Blue Hill Music School in Maine in 1953, a summer program that evolved into the Summer Chamber Music Institute at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.
Mr. Fuchs made many recordings, including one of the first complete sets of the Beethoven violin sonatas, with Balsam in 1952. He also recorded Mozart's works for violin and viola, the duos and the Sinfonia Concertante, with his sister…vivid testimonials to his artistry. [He played the ‘Cádiz Stradivarius’ violin of 1722].”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 March, 1997
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011