S0786. ZINO FRANCESCATTI, w.Eugenio Bagnoli (Pf.): Bach, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, ben Haim, Chopin, Sarasate & Ravel (the latter's 'Tzigane'), etc. (Austria) Orfeo C 711 081, Live Performance, 25 Aug., 1968, Salzburg. Final Sealed Copy! - 4011790711126
“Among the many artists who returned to Europe after the Second World War and chose the Salzburg Festival as the place to resume their European careers was the violinist Zino Francescatti. A native of Marseilles, he was still in his early twenties when he formed a duet partnership with Ravel, later appearing with Robert Casadesus and making his Salzburg Festival début in 1936, performing Mozart's G major Violin Concerto K 216 under the direction of Bruno Walter, but it was not until twenty-two years later that he returned to the town on the Salzach to perform Brahms' Violin Concerto under Dimitri Mitropoulos and to give a recital with the pianist Eugenio Bagnoli as his accompanist.
As was to be expected, the programme was extremely virtuosic, but it also placed the most varied stylistic demands on both its performers, encompassing, as it did, three centuries of music, beginning with Bach's Partita #1 for unaccompanied violin and taking in the Sonata in G by the German-born Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim (1897-1984), a piece that represents a fascinating attempt to create a formal, harmonic and melodic synthesis of Western and Middle Eastern musical traditions. Francescatti plays both these unaccompanied works with the same floating, silky tone, while revealing extreme flexibility in terms of dynamics and agogic accents. His outstanding gifts as a chamber musician with a true command of the give and take necessary in such music are revealed in his performance of Brahms' Violin Sonata op. 108 in which he is ably partnered by Eugenio Bagnoli, while in two brilliant salon pieces, Saint-Saëns' Introduction et Rondo capriccioso and Ravel's Tzigane, he deploys all the refinement and technical panache expected of him. It is no accident that his name is often associated with that of Nicolò Paganini, for he could trace back his musical pedigree to the ‘Devil's violinist’ through his father and the latter's teacher. Two encores rounded off the evening, Francescatti's own arrangement for piano and violin of Chopin's Mazurka op. 68 #4 and Pablo de Sarasate's ‘Zapatera’. Based on a tape in the Salzburg Festival's archives, the present recording provides us with an impressive cross-section of the wide-ranging repertory of his important violinist.”
"Zino Francescatti (a Frenchman, despite his very Italian name) made many recordings for Columbia Masterworks over his long career. Unfortunately, very few of these remain in print as of this writing - a situation which borders on the criminal. Columbia (now Sony BMG) has other priorities, it seems, [and] in the absence of any sort of coherent reissue program from Sony BMG, we need these live performances more than ever to remind us what an aristocratic violinist Francescatti was. There's not a performance here that doesn't stand up to scrutiny and to repeated listening, even if the performers (and the recording engineers of the time) probably never would have guessed that these recordings would be publicly available as many as 60 years later.
Francescatti was born in 1902 in Marseilles to musical parents. (His Italian-born father was concertmaster for that city's orchestra.) His parents really were the only teachers he ever had, although young Zino was greatly impressed by Kreisler and Thibaud. Although he revealed his prodigious talent at an early age, Francescatti was not turned into a child prodigy by his parents, and he was given plenty of time to develop into a complete and well-rounded musician, which is something altogether better than a mere ‘virtuoso’. His playing was characterized by the fullness and purity of his tone production, which meant that he particularly excelled in the Classical and early Romantic repertoires. Though Francescatti's playing typically was sweet, he didn't allow it to turn saccharine. He played modern music too, and if it wasn't always idiomatic, it was always beautiful. If Francescatti had any limitations, it was that his playing was, if possible, too uniformly beautiful. He seldom altered the perfection of his timbre for expressive purposes, and even devices such as sliding from one note to another - quite acceptable, if done in moderation - were rare in his playing. Jascha Heifetz and Francescatti were born just one year apart, but they might just have well have come from different planets, given the Russian violinist's use of expressive devices almost completely absent in Francescatti's playing. (Having said that, I rejoice that Francescatti roughs things up to good effect in the 1958 Tzigane preserved here. And please don't think that I am knocking Heifetz! Just because I like coffee doesn't mean that I don't also like tea.)"
- Raymond Tuttle, Classical.Net
“Zino Francescatti (1902-91) was a musician’s musician who won over audiences more by charm than prowess. His unmistakably French manner was out of vogue in an era-dominated by Russian-trained violinists, but so much the better for him. He was trained by his father, a concertmaster in Marseilles, and performed in the Straram Orchestra of Paris before coming late to a career as a soloist and chamber musician. He was not the last French violinist standing, though in the 1950s it could seem that way.
While his repertoire was wide, Francescatti’s recordings naturally emphasized French music, where he figures as a latter-day Jacques Thibaud. He has the same rich, dark tone; but while his phrasing is also very lyrical, it tends to be more tempered and neoclassical. This seems more of a generational difference than anything else.”
- David Radcliffe, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2012