The violinist Erica Morini was born in Vienna and made her debut in 1916 with both the Berlin Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras under the baton of the legendary Arthur Nikisch. The critics hailed her as one of the best players before the public and she enjoyed a fifty year career appearing all over the world with every major orchestra and conductor of her day.
Morini retired from playing in 1975 and is reported to have never played the violin again. She died in New York City in 1995 aged ninety one having largely been forgotten by the musical world.
I have to confess that I had barely heard her name before listening to her performances, but after listening to her recordings of the Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Bruch Concertos, I'm now a fan.
The first three CDs in the box are worth the modest price of this box set alone. The Tchaikovsky and Brahms Concertos were recorded in London with the RPO under Artur Rodzinski in 1956 in stereo and the Bruch was made in Berlin with Fricsay and the Berlin Radio Symphony in 1958, also in stereo together with the Glazunov Concerto.
Morini brings a huge sense of style and musicianship to her playing, moulding phrases and dovetailing with the wind soloists in many passages which are often forgotten in the fast and furious performances we so often hear today. Her sound is sweet but not large when she wants to be delicate but she can whip up a storm when she needs to and you feel you have heard some magic when she has finished.
The remaining discs comprise sonatas by Franck, Mozart, Beethoven as well as lollipops which were popular with audiences in the first half of the twentieth century and her sonata partners are equally impressive including Rudolph Firkusny and Artur Balsam.
The sound of these transfers is by and large good for their age but it is her playing which makes you forget any limitations.
As a footnote , when she was in hospital during her final weeks her violin, the famous Davidoff, was stolen from her apartment in New York and it has never been found. She was not told this and it is another sadness that this instrument on which she recorded most of these performances has been silenced possibly for ever.
Milestones of a Legend.
13 CD Box Set
The Intense Media