John Newmark, Vol. II;  Ida Haendel            (St Laurent Studio YSL 33-433)
Item# P1256
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John Newmark, Vol. II;  Ida Haendel            (St Laurent Studio YSL 33-433)
P1256. JOHN NEWMARK: Haydn, J. C. Bach, & Clementi- recorded 1953; IDA HAENDEL: Partita #2 in d - Chaconne (J. S.Bach); IDA HAENDEL & JOHN NEWMARK: Habanera (Claude Champagne); Violin Sonata #7 in c, Op.30. #2 (Beethoven), Live Performance, 1967, Montréal. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 33-433. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


"John Newmark (Neumark) was a pianist, accompanist & chamber musician, born in Bremen, 12 June, 1904, then naturalized as a Canadian in 1946. Newmark wanted to leave Germany, but it was not until 1939 that he was able to get to London. There he took part in concerts, notably with the soprano Emmy Heim and the violinist Max Rostal. In 1944 Newmark settled permanently in Montréal, where his services were soon in demand by eminent Canadian and foreign soloists. In 1949 he gave concerts in South America with Goldberg and accompanied Kathleen Ferrier on two extended tours of North America. With her, in 1950, he recorded song cycles of Schumann and Brahms for Decca-London & Brahms' Vier Ernste Gesänge'. In 1952 he won a Grand prix du disque de l'Académie Charles-Cros.

Newmark accompanied more than 80 foreign and at least 160 Canadian artists and has recorded with several of the most prominent. His long collaboration with Maureen Forrester began in 1953; with her he toured the world. After a Toronto recital by the team, John Kraglund wrote (GLOBE AND MAIL, 18 Jan 1960): 'Superb as Miss Forrester was, much of the credit for the exceptionally high quality of the recital must go to Mr. Newmark. Always a reliable accompanist, he gave inspired performances throughout the evening, providing an integral part of each song, without being guilty of either too much or too little'."


“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