Ginette Neveu (vn); Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, cond; North German RSO
ACANTA 233585, mono (40:05) Live: Hamburg 5/3/1948
This is an absolutely splendid reissue of Neveu’s May 1948 performance of the Brahms Concerto. Those already familiar with this version don’t need to be told of its virtues, which include a wonderful singing tone, impassioned playing without any rough bowing, and an almost transcendent luminosity to Neveu’s phrasing, but it should be pointed out that this live performance is even more spacious and, in places, more intense than her 1946 studio recording.
Apparently, after her EMI recording with Issay Dobrowen, Neveu became something of a specialist in this concerto. In addition to this Schmidt-Isserstedt performance, part of which (17 minutes’ worth) also came out on
In Memoriam Ginette Neveu
(Tahra 684), there’s another 1948 performance with Roger Désormière and the Orchestre National de France (issued in 2012 on Tahra, which I haven’t heard) and a June 1949 performance with Antal Doráti conducting the Hague Residentie Orchestra on Music & Arts 4837. The sound on this Acanta release borders on the spectacular for a 1948 broadcast: spacious, clear, and warm all at the same time. It doesn’t sound so much as if she is in the room with you than as if you are at the concert hall listening to her play. Seldom has Neveu’s sound been captured so realistically, thus for her many fans this should be a must-get item. My lone complaint is that, at 40 minutes, it’s a pretty short CD for the money. The previous release of this version, in 2002 on Tahra 465, also included her performance of the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 with Jean Neveu as pianist. Since that disc is selling for $8.99 at Amazon as an mp3 download, if you like that sort of thing it’s a better buy, but I can’t vouch for the sound quality.
Lynn René Bayley