S0198. JOHANNA MARTZY: Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Unaccompanied - recorded 1954 & 1955; Edith Marthis, Theo Altmeyer, Alfred Lessing, Walter Thoene & Christfried Bickenbach: Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach - recorded 1965 & 1966 (Bach). (Holland) 3-EMI 89179. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 724348917928
“Through her early EMI recordings, among others, the late Hungarian violinist Johanna Martzy has achieved fame, notoriety and a cult following that escaped her during her lifetime. Her career took off in 1947 after she won the Geneva Competition. Thereafter she achieved great success as a soloist and chamber music performer, though in the late '50s she performed with Leonard Bernstein and The New York Philharmonic.
I don't hear how you cannot be moved, even mesmerized by Martzy's playing. It is appropriately precise and austere given Bach's almost mathematical compositions, yet rich with vibrato, though its a vibrato that is almost clinical. That may seem like a contradiction in terms but that's how it sounds. Her approach is technically stern yet emotionally generous without being self-indulgent. Perhaps her newfound popularity is a result of that combination, which resonates with a 21st Century musical sensibility, even as some of the more flowery interpreter sounds old-fashioned and fall out of favor. But rather than dwelling on the technical, let me say that the result of her technique is hypnotic. Once the side starts, Martzy holds you captive. If you don't think one person sawing away on a violin can manage that (for you), this might change your mind.
So engrossing and hypnotic is the spell Martzy casts, when a side ends, you'll snap out of it wondering where you've been, and how you managed to find your way back.”
- Michael Fremer, 8 May, 2013