by Anthony Kershaw
I’m a big fan of the JVC XRCD reissues of the great recordings. The remastering is methodical and taken with obvious care. You pay for the privilege, but to my ears, the releases I’ve heard are more than worth it.
Featuring the patrician talent of Henryk Szeryng on violin and accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, this classic RCA Living Stereo Release is a hallmark of the great Kingsway Hall recordings of the late ’50s. The original Decca recording was engineered by the great Kenneth Wilkinson and produced by James Walker. When it was released on RCA, it had to compete with the famous Heifetz/Reiner recording, my personal favourite. In fact, no matter how superb Szeryng is, and he is brilliant, he does not quite match the superlative technical and musical qualities Heifetz brings to the Brahms Concerto.
That said, his playing has a fresh and imaginative quality that so few modern violinists possess. He has flawless control and intonation is excellent. And his lovely tone is front and center in a recording of startling clarity and sophistication. Yes, 1958!
The LSO, under the wonderful Pierre Monteux, is with Szeryng every step of the way. They sound superb. The LSO of the late 1950s included Roger Lord on oboe and Barry Tuckwell on horn. Both these artists and the other solo instruments are captured to perfection in Kingway’s magical surrounds. The recording as envisaged by JVC is a little ‘hot’, but the ‘presence’ is stunning. The immediacy and instrumental timbre will be some of the best you’ll ‘hear’.
I first heard this recording when auditioning some speakers at a local store. It was so good, I actually purchased it. Yes, with my own money!!! Rare, for us cheapskate reviewers. I didn’t want to wait for the JVC care package. It is that good.