Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 01/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After listening for years to Yehudi Menuhin's 1971 accounts of the Mendelssohn (E Minor) and Bruch (No. 1) Violin Concertos, both performed with the London Symphony Orchestra led by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos and Sir Adrian Boult respectively, I decided to purchase Menuhin's original stereo recordings of the Concertos from the late 1950s. Well, it seems I found a new standard bearer. This CD, reissued a few years back in EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" series, certainly lives up to its title. Menuhin's later renditions are outstanding, but the combination of a younger Menuhin, the war-horse Philharmonia Orchestra, and the studio excitement that exudes from seemingly all of the great early stereo recordings, make these accounts a notch better. Of course, having Walter Susskind (for the 1956 Bruch) and Efrem Kurtz (for the 1958 Mendelssohn) on the podium is just icing on the cake. The disc logs in a little on the short side at slightly over 50 minutes, but after these exhilarating performances you need a chance to catch your breath."
Superlative musicianship despite Menuhin's declining techniq
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Made between 1956-58, these classic readings of the Mendelssohn and Bruch concertos display Menuhin at his post-war best. I'm sorry to say that I undervalued these performances for a long time. In the Mendelsoohn I couldn't see past Menuhin's mono recording with Furtwangler just after the war, when the violinist had not yet suffered the decline in technique that was soon to plauge him, and Furtwangler was at his best. Menuhin kept a special affinity for this work, however, and this early stereo version with the excellent Efram Kurtz shows how his musicianship could shine thorugh drawbacks in execution.
The Bruch with Walter Susskind is a bold, forward reading with lots of presence. I especially like the fast tempo for the first movement and Menuhin's way of probing into every phrase--this concerto too often comes off as a combination of cut velvet and embalming fluid. One can't expect Menuhin's tone to be as sweet and steady as Perlman's, and his intonation turns dodgy in fast passagework, but Menuhin well deserves his standing as one of the most musical, expressive violinists of the century."