DESERT ISLAND RECORDING
I enjoy all sorts of different types of music, but it is only in the genre of classical music that my favorite recording is literally ‘second-to-none.’ Years ago I ran a music department in the back of a bookstore. Somewhat awkwardly, my work desk was stuck in the rear corner. Right behind me was the stereo system for the whole store, and underneath it was the shelf of records from which the store’s musical ambiance could be programmed. I inherited a lot of programming choices, from long gone staff members and current ones. The small collection tended to classical as did the store’s ambiance. (This would change over my tenure.) Packaged in a flimsy jacket, the imported EMI issue of the 1932 concert found its way into my hands. It was as if somebody handed me a diamond but I didn’t know what the heck a diamond was or what the big deal could be.
It was 1976. I auditioned Szigeti’s traversal of Beethoven’s violin masterwork made 44 years earlier; 75 years ago from today.
Amidst the bustle of the store Szigeti’s violin climbed upward. I was transfixed.
It ascended the ladder of my esteemed classical players immediately and, as it turned out, irrevocably. Beethoven’s violin concerto demands virtuosity. It also demands sublime magnanimity. Its cadenza has to be integrated into the heroic contours of the concerto. Finally, it seems to me this particular masterwork must be made to soar without for a second mitigating its gravely humanistic, bittersweet, dimension.
Ludwig Von Beethoven
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61
Joseph Szigeti (Violin)
British Symphony Orchestra
Central Hall, Westminster, London
This is part of the Joseph Szigeti CD box from Andante.