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Jonathan Woolf
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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K219 Turkish (1775) [28:09]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53, B96/B108 (1879-82) [31:34]
Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin)
Orchestra of the German Opera House, Berlin/Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt (Mozart)
Willi Boskovsky (violin)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Hans Weisbach (Dvořák)
rec. April 1943, Berlin, Masurenallee, Haus des Rundfunks (Mozart) and April 1944, Vienna Konzerthaus, Grosser Saal (Dvořák)
MELOCLASSIC MC2019 [59:43]

With this release Meloclassic pairs two distinguished Viennese violinists and contemporaries, Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Willi Boskovsky. They were taped a year apart, Schneiderhan in Berlin in 1943 and Boskovsky in Vienna the following year. Mozart was common to both men’s repertoires and they both recorded a fair amount – Boskovsky’s excellent accounts of the violin sonatas with Lili Kraus are less well-known than Schneiderhan’s of the Violin Concertos in Berlin but are probably superior examples of Mozart performances.
It’s Schneiderhan who is accorded the Mozart recording, the Turkish Concerto with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting the Orchestra of the German Opera House, Berlin. Obviously this wartime broadcast is not to be confused with the post-war Hamburg Radio Symphony DG LP that the two men made together. Numerous other examples exist of the violinist’s way with this concerto – Ferdinand Leitner and the Vienna Symphony is one but the self-conducted Berlin Philharmonic cycle of the late 1960s for DG is the best-known. But you can certainly find other examples – Desarzens live in 1953 with the Berlin Radio Symphony, for instance, and Ančerl in 1966 with the Czech Philharmonic on Multisonic. Schneiderhan’s taut, suave way is familiar even in this earliest inscription so far made available. The radio sound is especially good – maybe slightly dry but full of detail. The violinist’s vibrato is a touch too fast in the slow movement which emerges as over-tense, but his trills are of near-electric velocity, and his portamenti are discreetly effective. The finale is vigorous, the Janissary episodes well characterised. There is brief tape damage from 5:17 to 5:20.
Boskovsky was a very different kind of fiddler, and his altogether more gemütlich tone and phrasing are put to good use in the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work he never recorded commercially. The Vienna Symphony is conducted by Hans Weisbach, and he doesn’t offer overmuch in the way of genuinely idiomatic support. The sound-stage is rather bass-heavy and this leeches into the performance. Most Austro-German players struggle in this concerto and whilst Boskovsky is adept in places he can also be pedestrian in others. The folkloric episodes both for him and for the winds, in particular, could be more pointed, and there is a hint of Viennese whipped cream in the slow movement where one ideally wants the assured phrasing of a man genuinely attuned to the idiom, such as, pre-eminently, Vaša Příhoda. The orchestral contribution remains rather half-hearted, regrettably, and some of the solo work remains cloying, however fine it may be as violin playing per se.
These are, though, interesting documents. This is the earliest example known to me of Schneiderhan’s Turkish and the only one of Boskovsky’s Dvořák. One could hardly ask for more dedicated documentation in the digipak, or sympathetic restoration of the tapes.
Jonathan Woolf