Erick Friedman;  Pretre       (Meloclassic 2008)
Item# S0668
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Erick Friedman;  Pretre       (Meloclassic 2008)
S0668. ERICK FRIEDMAN, w.Prêtre Cond. Paris Conservatoire Orch.: Concerto #1 in g (Bruch); Symphonie espagnole in d (Bruch). (Germany) Meloclassic 2008, Live Performances, 1964, Paris. Final sealed copy! - 791154050309

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“A child prodigy, Mr. Friedman studied at Juilliard and made his New York début at 14. At 17, he began studying with Jascha Heifetz, with whom he recorded Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. He won the 1996 Grammy for best historical album for his participation in ‘The Heifetz Collection’. Mr. Friedman recorded for RCA with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and London Symphony, among others. His recordings of the Bach Sonatas for Violin and Clavecin and the Franck and Debussy sonatas received Grammy nominations.”

- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 1 April, 2004

“Eric(k) Friedman studied for eight years with Ivan Galamian and had worked also with Nathan Milstein. With the New York Philharmonic under Wilfrid Pelletier he played the Saint‑Saëns ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’ when he was 12. As winner of the Music Education League Auditions, he was presented as soloist under Thomas Scherman in Town Hall. Of this performance of the Lalo ‘Symphonie espagnole’, the New York Herald Tribune wrote: ‘Mr. Friedman’s performance was thoroughly remarkable. It became even more so upon learning he is 14 years of age, for the immaturity one would except of the age was utterly absent’. His Carnegie Hall début was in 1956.

By 1957 Friedman was regarded as one of the most promising and talented young American violinists. Instead, he became a student of Jascha Heifetz, against the advice of his manager Arthur Judson and put his immediate career on hold for three years. Judson felt that a career could not be stopped and restarted successfully. This meant drastically curtailing Friedman’s 80-concert-per-year schedule. Heifetz heard him in California and asked him to study with him in Los Angeles, thus becoming one of three pupils who formed the initial nucleus of Heifetz’s new pedagogical career.

When he returned to New York in 1960 Friedman found out several, rather painful truths. The first one was about Judson’s truism that ‘a career could not be stopped and restarted successfully’. Second, that being a Heifetz pupil was, against all apparent common sense or logic, a liability rather than an asset. ‘People who identified me with Heifetz would be upset by this. I couldn’t win. If I played like Heifetz, I was a carbon copy; a clone; if I didn’t play like him, I was less. I recorded the First Paganini concerto, which Heifetz never did. I even wrote my own cadenza for it. When Irving Kolodin reviewed it in The Saturday Review, he wrote that I played it ‘like Heifetz would have played it’, as if that was somehow a fault. But how could he have known? Heifetz didn’t play it as an adult!’

In 1962 Heifetz chose Friedman to record the Bach Double Violin concerto in London, a disc released shortly afterwards by RCA. To understand the momentous, unusual event it should be recalled that Heifetz had never shared the concert stage with another violinist, live or on record, in his entire career. Heifetz, the ever superstitious man, told Friedman to add an extra ‘k’ to his first name, such that the letters of his full name would add up to 13 - the same as Heifetz’s and Kreisler’s. Friedman duly obliged and thereafter his name read ‘Erick Friedman’. In 1963 he took a sabbatical leave and decided to go back to college to see what he had missed.

For a couple or so years his career seemed to reaffirm itself, several successful recordings followed - particularly Prokofiev’s First violin concerto with Erich Leinsdorf. But by 1965 Friedman had seemingly reached an impasse. Some of it had to do with music agencies and some alleged misunderstanding. Sol Hurok is said to have promised to sign up Friedman on condition that he severs his ties with CAMI. Having obtain a release from CAMI, not without some residue of animosity, he proceeded to contact Hurok who all but seemed to have disappeared - suddenly he refused to receive calls or meet Friedman. The young man was left hanging in limbo and nowhere to turn to. As if by chance, he started being encouraged by David Oistrakh to go to Russia and take part in the Tchaikovsky Competition. Against the wishes of Heifetz, Friedman entered the Moscow-based Competition in 1966 and finished ‘tied’ for sixth. He later admitted: ‘I should have heeded his advice and not entered the Tchaikovsky Competition’. Heifetz called me up, middle of the night, in that cryptic manner of his, and emphatically advised me not to go: ‘Erick, you’ll see what will happen there. I’m warning you’.

‘But I went to Moscow anyway at the insistence of David Oistrakh since I figured Oistrakh was head of the jury and a friend. Heifetz suspected that I was being set up by his detractors; after all, he was anti-Soviet, and they were anti-Heifetz. I was rather naïve back then in the 1960s. After the competition Heifetz phoned me. ‘You see, Erick, I told you this would happen. You have no respect for me’.’ An ashamed Joseph Szigeti sitting in the jury, later assured Heifetz that he scored highest on his marking list for Friedman. Unfortunately, the competition had also taken a toll on the teacher-pupil relationship. Heifetz had sensed, probably correctly, that the Russians would discredit his former student as a means to indirectly discredit his own standing. Friedman concluded that ‘My relationship with Jascha was never the same after that’.

Friedman continued to concertise. He collaborated with such celebrated conductors as Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, William Steinberg, Erich Leinsdorf, André Previn and Seiji Ozawa. Friedman continued to face obstacles to his career from the New York music establishment and his former pupil Talvi recalls that ‘he had shared his conviction that violinist Isaac Stern, president of Carnegie Hall, was on a mission to destroy his solo career with an agenda to belittle Heifetz’s teaching’. Erick Friedman was collateral damage; a victim of Heifetz’s foes, real or perceived. But one thing was for certain. Stern could make or break a career. He’d regularly travel to Israel and listen to young talented violinists. With glasses perched on top of his head, in an avuncular manner, he’d point and say, ‘You and you. Come to America’. Those who were chosen became soloists; the ones left behind, and not chosen, would eventually become orchestra musicians’. Friedman described in no uncertain terms that ‘if the Stern Mafia could silence me….Yes, that’s right….Isaac Stern. If he had his way, I’d no longer be concertizing’.

An automobile accident on a Texas highway in the 1986 halted his concert career. His car was rear-ended by a truck and the crash spared Friedman’s bow arm, but it left with compression injuries in his neck, left shoulder and arm and tissue damage from a fracture in his left thumb. He could no longer practise as much as he used to, and playing was always painful. Physical therapy was a daily necessity. He made his return to the concert stage in 1992 and began teaching violin at Yale in 1989, and taught until his death. He had also taught at Southern Methodist University, the North Carolina School of the Arts and at the Manhattan School of Music.

Friedman passed away on 30 March, 2004 in New Haven from cancer, at the age of 64.”

- Michael Waiblinger

“Meloclassic was founded in by Lynn Ludwig in Germany in December 2013, the label dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts. Whenever possible, the discs include original radio announcements and applause. The recordings are meant to serve as historical documents. The sound quality tends to remain extraordinarily quiet, with no trace of tape or wire hiss."

—Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, 20 July, 2014

“According to its website, Meloclassic is a ‘non-profit organisation dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts’. The first thing to say is that the material, or most of it, is of exceptional artistic interest, and the sound (which is for the most part extremely clean) is thankfully free of excessive filtering….I look forward to hearing further releases in the not-too-distant future.”

- Rob Cowan, GRAMOPHONE, April, 2014

"Presentation is in a digipack with notes ‘tipped’ in – with excellent photographs, by the way, and helpful text, in English in the case of my copy. Surveying the available discs and seeing details of some of those to come - many violinists, chamber ensembles and pianists – I have no hesitation in saying that this is potentially the most exciting tranche of broadcast material to be made available in many years."

- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational, 14 June, 2014