S0399. MICHAEL RABIN: Kreisler, Heifetz & Paganini; w.Mitropoulos, Kubelik, Voorhees, etc. Cond.: Violin Concerti by Brahms, Bruch, Wieniawski, Prokofiev, Mohaupi & Creston; w.Zino Francescatti: Double Concerto in d for Two Violins (Bach). (Canada) 3-Doremi 7951/53, recorded 1952-67. Final Sealed Copy! - 723721406257
“Not only violin fans but all music lovers will be delighted with this set of performances by the legendary Michael Rabin, a violin virtuoso and fine musician who, in his short life (1936-1972), generated explosive excitement and had, and still has, one of the most evident cult followings in classical music.
The three CDs are fully loaded with live performances, all previously unissued in any format, of concertos, solos and real showpieces for violin and orchestra. These were taken down at various stages of Rabin’s meteoric career, from his precocious teen-age years when he was a frequent and popular guest on The Bell Telephone Hour broadcast nationally on the NBC Network, to the fully mature, seasoned master delivering astounding performances of the Brahms, Bruch’s 1st, and Prokofiev’s 2nd violin concertos. We hear also his earliest known live performances of the Wieniawski first concerto, a work that to this day only Rabin plays with such finesse. He later recorded it for EMI, as authoritatively as if he owned it. Both Perlman and Shaham have recorded the Concerto, but neither approaches Rabin’s supremacy in this repertoire. Also included in this set are two ‘contemporary’ concertos apparently played only by Rabin: those by Richard Mohaupt (German-American 1904-1957) heard here with the NYPO conducted by Mitropoulos (1954) and American Paul Creston’s Concerto #2, commissioned by Rabin (1962).
A 1952 collaboration between the young Rabin and the mature and celebrated Zino Francescatti is heard in a scintillating performance of the first movement of Bach’s Double Concerto BWV1042, Rabin playing primo! Six of Paganini’s Solos Caprices (Berlin 1961) are wondrous.
Most of the repertoire presented here does not exist in Rabin’s commercial discography or in previously issued live performances. The informative and authoritative liner notes were written by Dr. Anthony Feinstein, author of “Michael Rabin: America’s Virtuoso Violinist” (Amadeus Press, 2005), the only biography of the late musician.
It is known that Michael Rabin wished to record the Brahms Violin Concerto. This set honours that wish with a breathtaking performance from 1967 with Rafael Kubelik in Chicago. The sound is of studio quality as are all the tracks except for the Mohaupt and Creston concertos which were rescued from contemporary acetates. The set helps to fill significant omissions in the catalogue.”
- Bruce Surtees, EARLY, CLASSICAL AND BEYOND, April, 2009
“Michael Rabin, a violin virtuoso who at 35 could look back on two decades in which he traveled some 700,000 miles to play before millions on six continents, when he was 13 in April 1950, appeared as a soloist with the National Orchestral Association at Carnegie Hall, and a reviewer for THE NEW YORK TIMES commented: ‘Young Rabin, who appeared with the organization two months ago, was last to appear, a regrettable fact, since this reviewer could only hear the beginning of Wieniawski's Concerto #1. In those few opening moments it was apparent that the violinist is poised, aware of musical problems and fully capable of solving them in sound. His tone was strong, but, sweet and colorful and he played with zest. It was reported that he continued the same, and that the audience gave him an ovation’.
At his [formal] debut, two months later, he played a Vieuxtemps Concerto with the same organization at Carnegie Hall. On that occasion Dimitri Mitropoulos called him ‘the genius violinist of tomorrow, already equipped with all that is necessary to be a great artist’. George Szell described him as ‘the greatest violin talent that has come to my attention during the past two or three decades’. Artur Rodzinski added: ‘Rabin's is not the usual musical prodigy story. No one beat him to make him practice his scales. He was not overprotected and shut off from the world, but managed to enjoy a perfectly normal American boy hood’.
Michael Rabin was born on New York's upper West Side on May 2, 1936. He was born into a musical family for his father, George Rabin, a pupil of Franz Kneisel, was a member of the New York Philharmonic's first violin section, from which he recently retired after 43 years. His Russian‐born mother, the former Jeanne Seidman, was a gifted pianist. She had studied with Edwin Hughes at the Juilliard Institute of Musical Art and had become a teacher herself in the preparatory division of Juilliard.
By chance Ivan Galamian, the renowned violin pedagogue, had just come to the United States from Paris and he was persuaded to hear the youngster play. Michael played a movement of a difficult Vivaldi concerto, and Mr. Galamian - while making no promises - agreed to let the youngster take three lessons a week with his assistant at their summer headquarters near Lake Placid, N.Y. At the end of the summer Michael again played for Mr. Galamian who took him on as his personal pupil, at first privately and later at Juilliard. For three years, from the age of 9 to 12, Michael worked hard with Mr. Galamian, and also learned conventional schooling at the Professional Children's School and with private tutors. From time to time he played for well‐known musicians and was encouraged by them. This led him to an honest evaluation of his own talents. Mischa Elman, so the story goes, patted him with approval and asked about his musical ambitions. ‘Sir’ Michael is reported to have said with all seriousness, ‘when I grow up I want to be able to play the violin just like Heifetz’.
Michael performed at a Town Hall pupils’ concert and then, in April, 1947, not quite 11, he accepted his first professional engagement.
In 1949, competing against 31 musicians from the Northeastern states, he won the 10th annual Edgar Stillman Kelley contest of the National Federation of Music Clubs. He was at once engaged for the following season for the National Orchestral Association Carnegie Hall program. This was the occasion on which he played the Vieuxtemps Concerto #5, and Ross Parmenter, a music critic of THE NEW YORK TIMES, reported: “The youth is already an accomplished artist. Not only has he technical facility and platform assurance, but he plays with real grace and beauty of tone. The boy will be worth watching’.”
- William Freeman, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 20 Jan., 1972