S0197. JOSEPH SZIGETI & CLAUDIO ARRAU: The Beethoven Violin Sonatas. (Italy) 3-Memories HR 4570/72, Live Performance, 1944, Washington, Library of Congress. Very long out-of-print, final ever-so-slightly used copy appears as New. - 8010984045708
“Joseph Szigeti, one of the titans of the violin in this century, a pioneer of contemporary music and a jealous guardian of the classic tradition, was a stylist with rare delicacy of tone and directness of feeling. A close friend of Bela Bartók, Szigeti helped to introduce his fellow Hungarian's music to new audiences. He was also a pioneer in presenting the music of Serge Prokofiev, the Soviet composer, whose Violin Concerto in D he played and recorded. He is credited, moreover, as the first to record Darius Milhaud's ‘Le Printemps’ and Ernest Bloch's ‘Nigun’. At the same time that Szigeti was making concertgoers familiar with new and difficult music, he was rewarding them with such staples of the violin diet as the concertos of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms, which he tended to play with elegance.
Szigeti's surface calm and gracious manner, underscored by his impeccably tailored dark blue pinstripe suits of the type once in vogue among diplomats, masked his intensely high-strung and temperamental nature. For all this, the violinist was accounted a modest man.
Shortly after his 1905 Berlin debut, Szigeti moved to London, where he performed at concerts of the National Sunday League and at private musicales. There followed tours with Nellie Melba, Blanche Marchesi and a joint recital with Myra Hess. By 1909 he was fairly launched with a concert directed by Bloch, and his recordings, including Bach's Prelude in E, began to sell.
Szigeti's American debut came in 1925 at the invitation of Leopold Stokowski, the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. After that, he played with every major orchestra in this country and gave solo performances in all the major cities. Indeed, he was almost constantly on tour here and abroad until his retirement. One of his final appearances was at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico in 1957, where he played Mozart's Concerto in D and the Adagio in E. Commenting on the concert, Howard Taubman, THE NEW YORK TIMES critic wrote: ‘[Szigeti] understands Mozart. It is an honest Mozart. The flash and flare that a young virtuoso would bring to the task are not there. Instead, there is the transparent simplicity that only an experienced and subtle artist knows how to evoke’.
Yehudi Menuhin, also a wunderkind violinst, wrote ‘We must be humbly grateful that the breed of cultured and chivalrous violin virtuosos, aristocrats as human beings and as musicians, has survived into our hostile age in the person of Joseph Szigeti. Perhaps he may be the string that will attach some chosen newborn reincarnation to his spiritual ancestor - to an Enesco, a Kreisler, a Joachim or an Ysaye’.”
- Alden Whitman, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 21 Feb., 1973
"Arrau is the complete pianist. He can revel in the keyboard for its own pianistic sake, representing to us the instrument's range and power, but he can also go beyond piano playing as we are led by his art to the secret chambers of the creative imagination."
- Sir Neville Cardus, THE GUARDIAN
“Claudio Arrau, one of the commanding piano titans of our time, enjoyed a career which spanned both ends of the twentieth century. He played his first recital in his native Chile in 1908, while his last concerts there took place in his ninth decade, in 1984. Arrau was one of the most prolifically recorded pianists of all time, with the lion’s share of his discography dating from after World War Two, when his international reputation solidified.”
- Jed Distler