Albert Sammons, Tertis, Murdoch;   Harty  (Naxos 8.110957)
Item# S0336
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Albert Sammons, Tertis, Murdoch;   Harty  (Naxos 8.110957)
S0336. ALBERT SAMMONS: Nachez, Schubert, Dvorák, Massenet, Sammons, etc.; w.William Murdoch (Pf.): Sonata in e (Elgar); w.Lionel Tertis (Viola); Harty Cond. London Phil.: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, K.364 (Mozart). (Canada) Naxos 8.110957, recorded 1926-35. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Final copy! - 636943195727


“Although scarcely a celebrity outside the United Kingdom, Albert Sammons was regarded by many fellow musicians and critics as the finest violinist ever to have been produced by England. A bold, yet sensuous tone, phrasing that was both virile and freely rhapsodic, and keen musicality all met in a man whose intensity set ablaze many a solo score. In addition, Sammons was an excellent concertmaster for several prominent British orchestras, taking from the experience a mastery of ensemble and interplay. Although Yehudi Menuhin's recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto with the work's composer was a justly famous one, Sammons' recording of the work from three years earlier was finer still. It was for Sammons that Frederick Delius wrote his violin concerto and Sammons premiered the work in 1919. His 1944 recording of that work, remastered and re-released by Naxos in a 2002 coupling with Elgar reveals his full dimension as an artist.

Following a few basic lessons from his father and elder brother, Sammons studied briefly with two Ysa˙e students: Alfredo Fernandez and Frederick Weist-Hill. Urged to hear him at London's Waldorf Hotel in 1909, Thomas Beecham requested the final movement of the Mendelssohn piece and was stunned by the velocity with which Sammons managed the music. He offered him the second seat in his newest orchestra and soon thereafter made him the orchestra's leader. Solo performances with several other orchestras further enhanced Sammons' burgeoning reputation and in 1912, he performed Saint-Saëns' Concerto in b minor before an audience that included King George V and the composer. The New String Quartet, taking its name from Beecham's symphonic ensemble, was formed by Sammons in 1910 and, from that time forward, the violinist became as well known for his chamber performances as for his orchestral leadership.

A distaste for travel abroad undoubtedly kept Sammons from becoming an international figure, but he did play some engagements in both France and Germany. With Australian pianist William Murdoch, he formed a duo sometimes joined by violist Lionel Tertis and cellist Cedric Sharpe. Elgar's Quartet and Piano Quintet were both given their first public performances in 1919 under Sammons' leadership. In addition to the Delius concerto, Sammons premiered Delius' String Quartet and Violin Sonata No. 2 (also written for him), as well as the concerti of George Dyson (1942) and E.J. Moeran (1946). The latter was recorded and represents Sammons' last appearance with an orchestra. By March of 1948, advancing Parkinson's disease had obliged him to retire from the concert stage altogether.

In his final years, Sammons devoted himself to teaching at the Royal College of Music, instructing such students as Hugh Bean and Alan Loveday. A capable composer, Sammons won the Cobbet Prize for his Phantasy Quartet and wrote a number of effective encore pieces for violin and piano. A 1954 benefit given on his behalf at the Royal Albert Hall (attended by Sammons, despite his failing condition) celebrated the life's work of a unique and undeniably great artist.”

- Erik Eriksson,

“I heard Tertis for the first time in recital in 1934 when he would have been fifty-eight years old and just about at the peak of his career. For me, a young violinist struggling to master the instrument, this event was amazing, something unbelievable. Here was a small man playing on a large viola and producing the most lovely sound that I had ever heard from a stringed instrument. He had everything: beautiful sound, consistent intonation, fine technique and a lovely way of phrasing a melody. He was the complete musician and artist. During the course of that recital, my future plans as a string player were turned upside down, and I had to become a violist and study with the man who so enthralled me.

Tertis played on a large instrument with a back length of 17 1/6 inches which was attributed to Montagnana and from which he produced a beautiful sound. He also had a technique in both hands that was equal to anything written for the instrument; in fact, I always felt he had a hidden reserve supply that was rarely used. When listening to him either at a lesson or in concert, the overall impression was one of fine sound and interpretation. The undoubted technique he possessed was simply there to enable him to achieve these objectives.”