Ida Haendel;   Karel Ancerl         (Supraphon 4024)
Item# S0453
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Ida Haendel;   Karel Ancerl         (Supraphon 4024)
S0453. IDA HAENDEL, w.Ancerl Cond. Czech Phil.: Concerto in D (Beethoven); Concerto in d (Sibelius). (Czech Republic) Supraphon 4024, Live Performance, 18 Oct., 1957. [With the utmost mastery, precision and naturalness, the soloist performed the two works with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karel Ancerl. The special atmosphere was also contributed to by the fact that Jean Sibelius had died less than a month prior to the concert. The sound quality of the recording and the soloist's flawless live performance (note perfect) are truly awesome. This recording is an encounter with a living legend.] - 099925402426


"Ida Haendel is one of the few instrumental prodigies to have achieved and then sustained a top-class international career lasting several decades. In a world dominated by male violinists, Haendel emerged on the scene playing with a scorching imperativeness and tonal opulence that rendered issues of gender a glorious irrelevance. A natural performer with a captivating stage presence, she filled even the largest of halls with waves of unbridled sound, enveloping her audiences in a sonic cocoon. When watching and listening to Haendel play, one is immediately struck by the naturalness and spontaneity of her musical thinking. In her hands the violin appears a natural extension of her being, a soulmate in which she confides and through which she projects her most intimate thoughts. Full bows speed through with a rapier’s thrust, articulated by an exceptionally strong left hand and finger-tip precision to enhance tonal clarity. The unmistakable impression created of someone born to play the instrument is no fanciful illusion. Even by prodigy standards, the rate at which Haendel mastered the violin - both technically and musically - borders on the miraculous.

Reflecting on her time with Flesch, Haendel felt that ‘he did not protect his students but spoke his mind, faults and all’. On the other hand ‘he was extremely kind to me and would kiss me on the forehead whenever I played well’. However, even that didn’t preclude a temporary falling-out between the two and during the hiatus that followed Ida headed for Paris seeking advice from Georges Enescu, a much gentler man and the polar opposite of Flesch being more preoccupied with the musical result than the means taken to achieve it. Another major milestone occurred in September 1935 when Haendel made her Proms début at the Queen’s Hall aged 9 - the first of 68 appearances at the British festival so far - playing the Beethoven Concerto under Sir Henry Wood. The DAILY TELEGRAPH reported that she possessed a command that most players achieve ‘only after long and industrious study’, while the OBSERVER commented that ‘no prodigy since Menuhin has shown such a sense of fitness, or played with such glow, such dignity’. Haendel spent the war years based in Britain, making the transition from prodigy to a maturing artist of the first rank while contributing to the war effort by performing to allied troops and appearing at Myra Hess’ famous National Gallery concerts. Following the war, she made her US début in 1946, and in 1948 became the first soloist to perform with the re-named Israel Philharmonic. She went on to establish a reputation second to none as a concerto soloist and became a notable champion of the Sibelius Concerto, then a comparative rarity. After hearing her give a radio broadcast of the work, the composer wrote to her personally congratulating her on what he felt was a defining interpretation.”

- Julian Haylock, Cremona Musica, 8 June, 2015

“Having studied conducting and composition at the Prague Conservatory, Karel Ancerl was Hermann Scherchen's assistant conductor in a 1931 production of Alois Hába's opera THE MOTHER. Ancerl later studied conducting with Scherchen and worked with Talich. In 1933, Ancerl started conducting for Prague Radio, also establishing himself as a stage conductor. When Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, Ancerl was dismissed from his job and interned in concentration camps. While Ancerl’s initiative was the first of its kind in Terezín, by 1944 there were an additional four orchestras, and several smaller ensembles active in the camp. Ancerl’s string orchestra flourished until October of 1944, when Ancerl and the majority of the musicians he conducted were deported to Auschwitz.

The only member of his family to survive concentration camps, Ancerl resumed his career in 1945, conducting the Prague Opera from 1945 to 1948. After directing the Czech Radio Orchestra from 1947 to 1950, Ancerl took over the Czech Philharmonic. During his time with the Czech Philharmonic, Ancerl's career flourished as he took his orchestra all over the world, receiving critical praise for his refined performances of the standard classical repertoire. In addition, he conducted many prominent European orchestras, also serving as guest conductor with the London Philharmonic in 1967. In 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Ancerl left the country, eventually settling in Toronto. The following year, he became music director of the Toronto Symphony and his impact there was very significant: he expanded the orchestra's repertoire, performing works by important Czech composers, including Smetana, Martinu, and Suk. In addition, Ancerl's impressive recording legacy includes performances of music by Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, and Stravinsky. Ancerl died in 1973.”

- Zoran Minderovic,