Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (cadenzas by Adolf Busch) [40:18]1
Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra, Op.40 [6:18]2
Romance in F major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 50 [7:44]2
Adolf Busch (violin)
Statsradiofoniens Symfoniorkester/Launy Grøndahl1
WOR Radio Orchestra/Alfred Wallenstein2
rec. radio broadcasts: Radiohusets Koncertsal, Copenhagen, 17 March
19491; WOR Studios, Newark, 21 February 19422
GUILD GHCD 2395 [54:39]
Many violin aficionados will be more than pleased
with this release of an unpublished performance of the Beethoven Violin
Concerto by the great German violinist Adolf Busch. The performance
is a radio broadcast from the Radiohusets Koncertsal, Copenhagen 17
March 1949. The orchestra is that of the Danish State Radio under
their regular conductor Launy Grøndahl. This now makes available on
CD three performances from one of its finest interpreters. The other
two consist of the studio recording from the Liederkranz Hall, New
York, with the New
York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, conducted by his brother
Busch (9th February 1942) , and a concert performance
given the night before at Carnegie Hall which, according to the discography
in Tully Potter’s two-volume biography (Adolf Busch. The life
of an honest musician: Toccata Press, 2010), is available on
a Music and Arts CD (CD
1183). The studio recording I am familiar with; the latter Carnegie
Hall performance I have unfortunately never heard.
According to Potter, the Beethoven concerto is a work Busch played
more often than any other, and there are up to 400 concert performances
documented. How wonderful it would be to hear his collaborations with
such stellar conductors as Toscanini, Furtwängler, Mengelberg, Monteux,
Barbirolli and Klemperer. We can only hope that some of these may
surface in the future.
Adolf Busch was born in Siegen, Westphalia in 1891 and had two brothers
who were also distinguished musicians: Fritz the famous conductor,
and Herman the cellist. He studied the violin with Willy Hess and
Bram Elderling at the Cologne Conservatory. He also studied composition
under Fritz Steinbach. In 1912 he played the Beethoven Concerto under
Max Reger who told Busch’s fiancé Frieda Gruters that Busch was taking
the place of Joachim and that he had never heard the concerto played
in such a way before. This was great praise indeed. After the First
World War, he founded the Busch Quartet, which continued until 1951,
a year before his death at the relatively young age of sixty-one.
In the late 1920s Busch became disillusioned and unhappy at the political
situation that was emerging in Germany, and moved with his family
and Rudolf Serkin, whom he regarded as a son, to Basel, Switzerland
in 1927. A man of great integrity and moral conviction he was appalled
by the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews when they came to power in 1933.
From then on, until after the war, he boycotted performing in Germany,
and in 1938 Italy also. As a result of his high principles, his income
was thus halved. At the outbreak of the Second World War he emigrated
to the United States and settled in Vermont. In the States, together
with Serkin, who married Busch’s daughter, he founded the Marlboro
School and Festival. Counted amongst his students were Stefi Geyer,
Erica Morini and Yehudi Menuhin.
At the time of this performance, Danish Radio had only one disc-cutting
turntable, and music was lost at each change of disc, resulting in
five gaps in the performance. At the suggestion of Tully Potter, who
has written the excellent accompanying notes, the producer of the
CD, Anthony Hodgson, has inserted the missing passages, using the
studio recording of 1942.
This is a truly eloquent performance in extremely good sound for its
age. There is an excellent balance between the violinist and players,
and you get the feeling that the soloist, conductor and orchestra
are at one, in genuine sympathy with each other. Like his pupil Menuhin,
Busch can make the violin speak and express a phrase; the violin sound
has a life to it. His tone is warm, glowing and radiant, and you feel
you are transported to a another world, especially in the first movement’s
G minor episode (11:41). The first movement cadenza is Busch’s own
and is also used in the 1942 studio version. It is completely idiomatic.
This is truly aristocratic and noble playing.
The second movement Larghetto shows Busch at his most intimate
and fervent. There is an almost improvisatory element to his playing
yet, all the time, he plays within himself, letting the music speak,
without any hint of ostentation. The Rondo finale has a rhythmical
vitality to it and Busch, considering he was, at this time, in his
50s and not in his absolute prime, is on good technical form.
Comparing the sound of this recording with that of the 1942 studio
performance, I did not find a great deal of difference. I noted also
that his interpretation of the concerto had not altered significantly
over the seven intervening years.
The two short Romances are a welcome addition to the CD, having been
issued previously on the Music and Arts CD mentioned above. They date
from 1942 and were recorded for the WOR radio station in New York.
They are conducted by the station’s own music director Alfred Wallenstein,
a former cellist. Apparently, Busch was very fond of th Romances and
would often include them in his concerts.
This is a wonderful addition to the Busch discography.