Josef Hassid;  Ginette Neveu;  Dobrowen       (Opus Kura 2110)
Item# S0633
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Josef Hassid;  Ginette Neveu;  Dobrowen       (Opus Kura 2110)
S0633. JOSEF HASSID, w.Gerald Moore (Pf.): Hassid's Complete Issued Recordings, incl. Elgar, Dvorák, Tschaikowsky, Achron, de Sarasate, Massenet & Kreisler - recorded 1940; GINETTE NEVEU, w.Jean Neveu(Pf.): Bagatelle (Scarlatescu); Pièce en forme de Habanera (Ravel); Sonata in g (Debussy); w.Dobrowen Cond.Philharmonia Orch.: Poème (Chausson) - recorded 1946 & 1948. (Japan) Opus Kura 2110. - 4582158681103


“Often prodigious artists become literally myths after their death, especially when they meet it at a very young age and under tragic circumstances. This is most definitely the case of the splendid Polish violinist Józef Hassid, according to the celebrated British pianist Gerald Moore’s words: ‘with the possible exception of Menuhin, is the most incandescent talent I have ever heard’.

Born Józef Chasyd in Poland to a Jewish family in 1923, lost his mother when he was still a little boy and almost concomitantly started showing a quite timid and reclusive temperament, an introverted nature that worsening accompanied him until his tragic late days. Nevertheless, since his boyhood he revealed a great musical talent becoming one of the most famous pupils of the celebrated Hungarian maestro Carl Flesch. He received an honorary diploma in the 1935 at Warsaw’s Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (won by Ginette Neveu) in which also the great David Oistrakh, Henri Temianka and the young Ida Haendel participated. Apparently poor Josef, whose touch was undeniably excellent, suffered a temporary amnesia during his performance, most probably due to his highly emotional disposition. His depressive and melancholic temper was greatly accentuated by a disillusioned and highly contrasted adolescent romance that blossomed during his sojourn in Spa, where Carl Flesh used to teach violin summer classes. It seems that due to the religious differences between the two youths, the love-story was brusquely sedated by their parents.

In 1938 Josef’s father decided to move to Britain where the young prodigy would begin to perform and record. He made a magnificent first appearance in London in 1940 at the age of sixteen. At the Queen’s Hall on December 5th he performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. He also started recording with EMI. Yet, while performing in London he had another memory lapse while playing the Tschaikowsky Violin Concerto.

In 1941 he experienced a deep depressive crisis and nervous breakdown and therefore was committed to St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton where he underwent insulin coma therapy and electroconvulsive therapy, unfortunately with very poor results. Sadly his unparalleled art and music quickly faded away; regrettably his celestial sound fell still and his violin became mute. In fact after a short period spent with his father out of the clinic, he was eventually diagnosed with an acute case of schizophrenia and was committed again, this time to Long Grove Hospital a mental asylum in Epsom, Surrey, which had a wing for Polish civilians. There he remained for many years until his death caused by a lobotomy in 1950. Between January 1947 and June 1952, 180 people died as a result of unsuccessful lobotomy in England and Wales. One of these victims was Josef Hassid, age 26, one the greatest violinists of all time.

His music was bright and his intonation spotless, his playing was effortless. The final effect was indescribably brilliant, suave and the overall outcome moving and heartbreaking. A few rare recorded performances are all that remains of his art as his great gift: Dvorak’s ‘Humoreske’, Joseph Archron’s’Hebrew Melody’; Kreisler’s ‘Capriccio Viennois’; Massenet’s ‘Méditation de Thaïs’ (all recorded with Gerald Moore on 29 Nov., 1940); Pablo de Sarasate’s ‘Zapateado Op. 23, No. 2’ (recorded with Gerald Moore 6 Dec., 1940); Pablo de Sarasate’s ‘Playera’ (recorded with Gerald Moore 28 June, 1940); Sir Edward Elgar’s ‘La Capricieuse’, (recorded with Ivor Newton on 9 Jan., 1939); Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sourvenir d’un lieu cher’, (recorded with Gerald Moore 6 Dec., 1940).

Once listening to Josef Hassid, it is quite natural to believe what Fritz Kreisler said: ‘A Heifetz violinist comes around every 100 years, a Hassid every 200’. Kreisler lent Hassid for the remainder of his career a violin of 1860 by the French maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, which was a great improvement on the instrument he had played up until then."

- artandlove, 16 Jan., 2009

“Ginette Neveu was, for 14 years, one of the most promising musicians of the twentieth century, a violin virtuoso who dazzled audiences in her native France with her performances, and listeners around the world with her recordings. She is remembered today for the promise of her few recordings, and the tragedy of her early death in an airplane crash.

Neveu's musical abilities manifested themselves very early in her life, and she achieved fame as an infant prodigy. Her formal début took place at age seven and a half, with a performance of Bruch's g minor Violin Concerto in Paris. She quickly began winning prizes in competition, and took lessons from Georges Enescu, before entering the Paris Conservatory at age 11, where she earned the top student prize at the end of her first eight months there. It was her winning of the 1935 prize in the Wieniawski Competition at age 16, against a field of 180 competitors that included a 27-year-old David Oistrakh, that assured her international career, doubly so in the wake of the American and Russian débuts that followed. The outbreak of World War II interrupted her work and career, but in 1946 Neveu seemed ready to resume where she had left off in 1940, with performances in England, North and South America, and later Australia.

Neveu seemed poised for greatness, particularly after her triumphant appearance at Britain's Edinburgh Festival in 1949. On 29 October, 1949, Neveu and her brother boarded a plane for a trip to America and a new tour. The plane crashed in the Azores, with no survivors.

Neveu made her earliest recordings before the war in Berlin, but her adult recording career didn't begin until 1945 at EMI Records in London. Accompanied by the newly founded Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Walter Süsskind, she recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto in d minor on 21 November, 1945. Her performance, squeezed in on an off-day between concerts, was so intense that her neck and chin were bleeding at the end of the day-long recording session. In August of the following year, she set down the Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major with the Philharmonia conducted by Issay Dobrowen. Her other major recordings include works by Chausson, Debussy, Ravel, and Richard Strauss. She also left behind a collection of small-scale violin pieces.”

- Bruce Eder,