This famous LP from Electrola (WALP 1100, German pressing, red/gold semi-circle label – ED1, mono, gatefold jacket) features Yehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Furtwangler's sublime recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 61, taped in London on 7/8 April 1953 with the Philharmonia Orchestra, still among the greatest recordings of this work. It should be noted that Menuhin plays Kreisler's cadenzas in the Movements I and III.
This is arguably the finest possible pressing, and also the rarest, of this gramophone classic.
Wrote the superb critic Christopher Howell for MusicWeb-International:
"To compare this Beethoven with Menuhin's first stereo remake, recorded under Constantin Silvestri in Vienna seven years later, is to obtain a lesson on the fickleness of inspiration and human frailty. Silvestri conducts more than ably, and the tempo is practically the same both times, yet Menuhin is edgy, nervous, and often plays sharp. Despite a few flexible corners as he settles down Furtwängler offers a remarkably classical reading of the orchestral exposition – far more so than Bruno Walter in his recording with Szigeti – but somehow he gives the idea that each new idea is born in that moment. Thereafter he and Menuhin are as one, a true dialogue as the ideas pass between them. The slow movement under Silvestri seems episodic; Furtwängler and Menuhin create a seamless flow. I have never before appreciated so much the continuity of this movement. Menuhin begins the finale at a fairly serene dance tempo; his phrasing is a little more legato than we usually hear, and Furtwängler picks this up so as to give a completely unified effect while Silvestri phrases the normal way. At the first episode Furtwängler speeds up, but he turns out to be right. Silvestri carries on at the same tempo and it becomes a plod, so when Menuhin enters he speeds things up on his own account. Menuhin and Furtwängler play as one man, and this movement, too, is the best integrated I have ever heard.
"Not surprisingly, Menuhin returned to the concerto only a few years after the Silvestri recording, this time with Klemperer. Later still he remade it with Kurt Masur, but in the opinion of many his truly great Beethoven concerto recordings are the two under Furtwängler, of which this is the second. There are those who feel that the 1947 version is more inspired still, but since the present one is in very good 1953 mono sound it can safely be recommended to the general listener in search of a deep musical experience."
And of the EMI "Great Recordings of the Century" CD re-issue of this performance, The Gramophone wrote in October 1989:
"Furtwangler and Edwin Fischer formed a long artistic partnership, and their glorious recording of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto bears witness to a remarkable meeting of musical minds. Furtwangler and Menuhin enjoyed a similar close rapport, and Menuhin's support for his older colleague was no small factor in Furtwangler's musical rehabilitation during the late 1940s after he had remained active in Nazi Germany. They recorded the Beethoven Concerto on two occasions, and this second version, made in 1953, shares with the Fischer/ Furtwãngler Emperor an extraordinary quality of spirituality and profundity. At once Furtwangler's conducting of the opening tutti has a magnificently arresting, weighty quality, and Menuhin's response, profound and rich in recreative imagination shows the two great artists in perfect accord. Their account of this movement is on the largest scale, yet they convey Beethoven's vision in a very humane, approachable fashion. The slow movement has a highly concentrated yet serene character, with Menuhin's rapt, singing tone achieving rare eloquence, and the finale is superbly balanced, with an affecting sense of a shared, joyful experience."
Incidentally, there are excellent liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in German only.
CONDITION – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY:
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the gatefold jacket is VERY GOOD. There is edgewear and some slight scuffing, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, owners' markings, bends, or other defects, and the jacket remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – overall, this rates as a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. While there are a few slightly noisy passages, in general the playback is quite fine. However, those requiring a flawless or near-MINT copy are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as an excellent collector's copy.
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