S0525. ENDRE WOLF: The Complete Danish TONO Recordings, 1949-51, incl. Bach, Mozart, Paganini, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov, Aulin & Bartók; w.Jensen Cond.: Concerto in D (Tchaikowsky); w.Tuxen Cond.: Concerto in g (Bruch). (Denmark) 2–Danacord 714/15, recorded 1949-51. - 5709499714157
“The Hungarian-born violinist Endre Wolf (1913-2011) was a pupil of Hubay in Budapest. In 1936 he became leader of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, resigning a decade later to begin his career as soloist and recitalist, often with his wife Antoinette, and also with his Wolf quartet. British music-lovers came across him due to his association with the Hallé Orchestra and its conductor John Barbirolli when Wolf was, for a number of years, a Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music. He was also a noted pedagogue in his adopted country of Sweden.
There was a period of a decade, between 1954 and 1963, when it seemed that no Proms season was complete without Endre Wolf and André Navarra (Endre and André) giving the public their Brahms Double Concerto – though ironically when Barbirolli recorded it; it was Alfredo Campoli who joined Navarra. To check on the view that Wolf was exclusively associated with Barbirolli, I looked at the Proms playlists and found that, in fact, he also performed with Basil Cameron and John Pritchard and no, it wasn’t just the Double – he also played the concerti by Beethoven and Mendelssohn and the Brahms Violin Concerto.
This two-disc set presents for the first time the entirety of Wolf’s recordings for the Danish label Tono. This company’s violin discs were dominated by two émigré Hungarian fiddlers – Wolf and Emil Telmányi - to whom the repertoire was parcelled out. Telmányi was famous for Sibelius, Nielsen and Bach, also Brahms. Wolf was given more central and Romantic repertoire. Thus we hear his Tchaikovsky and Bruch concerti, and the two most famous Beethoven sonatas.
His Tchaikovsky (1949) is fast, though bowed with such security that it doesn’t seem unduly rushed, notwithstanding an abbreviated finale. There are no particular idiosyncrasies, his trills in the slow movement are pellucid, his legato excellent and the dynamic shaping (especially diminuendos) equally accomplished. I think, though, that even generous auditors would carp at a finale of this work lasting barely just over six minutes. The efficient conductor is Thomas Jensen.
…the playing [in the Mozart Concerto] is robust and confident and some fine ‘pathetic’ phrasing from Wolf illuminates the central movement, and some brisk portamenti similarly in the finale. Wolf was, by and large, quite a ‘clean’ player and doesn’t seem to have developed the dreaded nagging Hubay vibrato.
Bruch’s g minor Concerto, recorded in 1949, is kept on a good, tight rein, and played with sweetness and purity and considerable charm. Once again he is astute at dynamic variance and at resisting ear-catching but ultimately gauche finger position changes. His conductor is the excellent Tuxen. He joins with his first wife Antoinette for the ‘Spring’ and ‘Kreutzer’ sonatas. They take slow tempi for the first two movements of the ‘Spring’, though Oistrakh and Milstein did too, but the last two are up to tempo. It’s a relaxed performance, strong on ensemble quality. The ‘Kreutzer’ is much more up to tempo all round, but is quite small-scale with a fast and very leanly phrased variations second movement.
There are some extra smaller pieces. His nimble ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ can’t survive comparison with Milstein (few can), but his Aulin ‘Humoreske’ is a real charmer and he digs into Szigeti’s arrangement of Bartók’s ‘Hungarian Folk-Tunes’ with much of the gusto you’d expect. There’s also a rare example of his Bach – a single movement, the Sarabande, from the Partita in d minor.
One of Wolf’s best known recordings was the Brahms Concerto with the Sinfonia of London and Anthony Collins, though he’d earlier recorded it with Walter Goehr. If you want to discover more about Wolf, these Tono transfers are just the thing.”
Jonathan Woolf, musicweb-international.com