Ida Haendel - Bach   (2-Testament SBT 2090)
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Ida Haendel - Bach   (2-Testament SBT 2090)
S0104. IDA HAENDEL: Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Unaccompanied (Bach). (Austria) 2-Testament SBT 2090, recorded 1995. Long out-of-print, Final ever-so-slightly used copy. - 749677209025


"Ida Haendel, a pupil of Enescu, blends discipline and freedom into a monumental vision of these works, its magisterial pace barely contained on two CDs. Her rhythm is bracingly steady yet emphatic; her texture firm without being percussive or harsh; her impression heartfelt and distinctive while maintaining full respect for Bach’s architecture and the integrity of his score. As she puts it, her Bach is not a mythical, aloof intellectualized figure but rather a man, 'with all the emotions and feelings of a human being – the drama, the tempest, the tragedy and the tears are all there. In this music is the whole spectrum of life and death'. Her chaconne (a luxuriant 18 minutes) is, to her, 'the shattering resignation of a man to his unavoidable tragic destiny'. Indeed, in her hands not only the chaconne but the entire set from start to finish is an intense and deeply moving journey. "


"Ida Haendel is one of the few instrumental prodigies to have achieved and then sustained a top-class international career lasting several decades. In a world dominated by male violinists, Haendel emerged on the scene playing with a scorching imperativeness and tonal opulence that rendered issues of gender a glorious irrelevance. A natural performer with a captivating stage presence, she filled even the largest of halls with waves of unbridled sound, enveloping her audiences in a sonic cocoon. When watching and listening to Haendel play, one is immediately struck by the naturalness and spontaneity of her musical thinking. In her hands the violin appears a natural extension of her being, a soulmate in which she confides and through which she projects her most intimate thoughts. Full bows speed through with a rapier’s thrust, articulated by an exceptionally strong left hand and finger-tip precision to enhance tonal clarity. The unmistakable impression created of someone born to play the instrument is no fanciful illusion. Even by prodigy standards, the rate at which Haendel mastered the violin - both technically and musically - borders on the miraculous.

Reflecting on her time with Flesch, Haendel felt that ‘he did not protect his students but spoke his mind, faults and all’. On the other hand ‘he was extremely kind to me and would kiss me on the forehead whenever I played well’. However, even that didn’t preclude a temporary falling-out between the two and during the hiatus that followed Ida headed for Paris seeking advice from Georges Enescu, a much gentler man and the polar opposite of Flesch being more preoccupied with the musical result than the means taken to achieve it. Another major milestone occurred in September 1935 when Haendel made her Proms début at the Queen’s Hall aged 9 - the first of 68 appearances at the British festival so far - playing the Beethoven Concerto under Sir Henry Wood. The DAILY TELEGRAPH reported that she possessed a command that most players achieve ‘only after long and industrious study’, while the OBSERVER commented that ‘no prodigy since Menuhin has shown such a sense of fitness, or played with such glow, such dignity’. Haendel spent the war years based in Britain, making the transition from prodigy to a maturing artist of the first rank while contributing to the war effort by performing to allied troops and appearing at Myra Hess’ famous National Gallery concerts. Following the war, she made her US début in 1946, and in 1948 became the first soloist to perform with the re-named Israel Philharmonic. She went on to establish a reputation second to none as a concerto soloist and became a notable champion of the Sibelius Concerto, then a comparative rarity. After hearing her give a radio broadcast of the work, the composer wrote to her personally congratulating her on what he felt was a defining interpretation.”

- Julian Haylock, Cremona Musica, 8 June, 2015