Nicolai Malko, Vol. XIX;  Ida Haendel  -  Stravinsky   (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-709)
Item# C1664
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Nicolai Malko, Vol. XIX;  Ida Haendel  -  Stravinsky   (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-709)
C1664. NICOLAI MALKO Cond. Danish National S.O.: Symphony in Three Movements; Symphony of Psalms; The Firebird - Suite; w.IDA HAENDEL: Violin Concerto in D (all Stravinsky) [Riveting performances, recorded in excellent sound!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-709, Live Performance, 29 Jan., 1959, Copenhagen. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


"Malko completed his studies in history and philology at Saint Petersburg University in 1906. In 1909 he graduated from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he had included Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Lyadov among his teachers. He published articles on music criticism in the Russian press and performed as a pianist and later as a conductor. In 1909 he became a conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre and, six years later, the head conductor there. From 1909 he studied conducting in Munich under Felix Mottl. In 1918 he became the director of the conservatory in Vitebsk and from 1921 taught at the Moscow Conservatory. From 1921 to 1924 he shuttled between Vitebsk, Moscow, Kiev and Kharkiv, conducting in each of these cities. In 1925 he became a professor of the Leningrad Conservatory. He became conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in 1926 and conducted the world première of the Symphony #1 by his pupil Dmitri Shostakovich that same year, and the premiere of Shostakovitch's Symphony #2, dedicated to him, in 1927. Malko also conducted the premiere of Nikolai Myaskovsky's 5th Symphony. Myaskovsky's 9th Symphony was dedicated to Nikolai Malko. He was succeeded as director of the Leningrad Philharmonic by his pupil Yevgeny Mravinsky in 1938, and continued to teach at the Conservatory. With the outbreak of World War II in 1940, Malko settled in the United States, where he also taught conducting. His thoughts on conducting technique were gathered together and published in a volume entitled, THE CONDUCTOR AND HIS BATON (1950).

Malko recorded extensively for EMI in Copenhagen and then with the Philharmonia, in London. In 1951 he premiered Vagn Holmboe's 7th Symphony with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1954 he came to Britain as principal conductor of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. In 1956 he moved to Australia, becoming chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra following the hurried departure of Sir Eugene Goossens. In 1960, the Danish King Frederick IX named Malko a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog. Malko continued in his position as Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra until his death in Sydney in 1961.”

- Ned Ludd

“Ida Haendel, the Polish-born prodigy with a fiery sound and unassailable technique who became one of the foremost violinists of her generation, was a student of the noted pedagogue Carl Flesch and the composer, pianist and violinist George Enescu, Ms. Haendel was a living link to an early-20th-century school of violin playing centered on simmering sound and dramatic phrasing. In lyrical passages, her ardent vibrato and swooping portamento lent her playing a strong vocal character, while her articulation in virtuosic passagework could be crisp to the point of percussive.

An example is her 1955 recording of the Brahms concerto with Sergiu Celibidache, a conductor with whom she had a close and sometimes tumultuous working relationship. Her signature piece was the Sibelius Violin Concerto which she played with a contained urgency that the critic Geoffrey Norris in THE TELEGRAPH of London once described as ‘fire and ice’ and ‘mind-blowing’. After a 1949 performance in Helsinki, Sibelius wrote her a letter and congratulated himself ‘for having found a performer of your standard’.

Until the 1980s, Ms. Haendel was virtually the only woman among the top tier of concert violinists. In later decades she complained about being sidelined by younger players in a market that prized attractive new faces. But well into her 80s she embraced any opportunity to play. In a 2004 documentary by the Dutch director Paul Cohen, she declared matter-of-factly, ‘I am the violin’.

The cellist Steven Isserlis, who played Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Ms. Haendel and the pianist Martha Argerich, said Ms. Haendel’s music making always conveyed passion. ‘It was strong, vibrant, focused and came from right deep inside her’, he said in a phone interview. ‘She really was the violin - there was no separation’.

Ms. Haendel, then living [in London], gave her first Proms concert in 1937 at the Queens Hall, playing the Beethoven concerto under the direction of Henry Wood. Her family was Jewish, and her father, who was in London with her and sensed that war was imminent, arranged for Ida’s mother and sister to join them in Britain. They became British citizens. During the war, Ms. Haendel performed for British and American troops and was featured in the morale-boosting concerts at the National Gallery put on by the pianist Myra Hess.

She entered into a fruitful artistic collaboration with the conductor Rafael Kubelik, with whom she recorded Bruch’s first violin concerto in 1948 and Beethoven’s in 1951. She also worked with the conductors Thomas Beecham, Charles Munch, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Simon Rattle, among others.

Her advocacy for the concertos written by Britten and Walton helped bring them into the mainstream. She also performed the premiere of Allan Pettersson’s second violin concerto in 1980 and was the dedicatee of Luigi Dallapiccola’s ‘Tartiniana Seconda’ in 1957. She was one of the first Western soloists to be invited to perform in China, part of a 1973 tour with the London Philharmonic.

Ms. Haendel moved to Montreal in 1952 and several decades later settled in Miami Beach. She lived in a house that she had bought for her father so he could be near the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, a close friend. She never married. She spoke of feeling unattractive and invisible to men. ‘Not only my father thought of me as an instrument only’, she said in one interview. Asked in the 2004 documentary what it had been like to be a child prodigy, she said, ‘I was old’, adding, ‘I’m more of a child now’.

Ms. Haendel traveled in 2006 to Auschwitz, where she played the Prayer from the ‘Dettingen Te Deum’ by Handel for a delegation including Pope Benedict XVI. Her recorded performance of the simple melody is impassioned, her tone anguished yet irrepressibly vibrant.

He said she often returned to a memory from early childhood. When she was a little girl practicing, her father would be listening in the other room and he would say, ‘I hear what you’re playing, but what does it mean?’ That question stayed with her, her entire life.”

- Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 8 July, 2020