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Although Ricardo Odnoposoff, son of Russian immigrants in Argentina, spent only four years as concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra it was an important part of his training; he had studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik with Carl Flesch and was appointed following his success in the first International Competition for Voice and Violin in Vienna in 1932. He ‘cut his teeth’ on solo opportunities forthcoming from his association with the orchestra and continued in this rôle until the 1937 Ysaÿe Competition. Here, in a ‘duel’ between himself and David Oistrakh, Odnoposoff came second amid rumours of fixing by a Soviet juror, but had made such a mark that offers of work soon came. He toured extensively (effectively exiled from his adopted Austria during the Nazi occupation because he retained Argentinian citizenship), visited Argentina in 1940 and in 1942 moved to New York. In 1956 Odnoposoff returned to Vienna, becoming professor at the Conservatory in 1957. Despite his extensive teaching work he continued performing widely. His last appearance with the Vienna Philharmonic was in 1965 playing the première of Theodor Berger’s Violin Concerto under Eugene Ormandy.

Odnoposoff’s 1937 recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto is a sonorous reading. He is in fact the best of the soloists, with a well-nourished tone and clean lines suitable to the repertoire, whilst Auber’s cello playing seems dry, even nervous in comparison. Odnoposoff shows his relative youth in a sound that is focussed and largely without older stylistic references (such as the portamento, still be found in the playing of many at this time); his vibrato is controlled and modern in approach. His direct yet fulsome tone is reminiscent of Adolf Busch, albeit perhaps without the latter’s fiery bearing.

Two violin sonata recordings of 1951 suffer from a very dry studio acoustic which robs them of drama. The Debussy is a rather mixed blessing with some unconvincing tempo rubato in the slow movement and dubious intonation in the first; yet the finale is suitably sparkling. Villa-Lobos’s Sonata No. 3 is more successful—Odnoposoff manages to convey the rather opaque musical language in the first movement in a straightforward yet compelling way, whilst the finale in particular is remarkable for its intensity.

As a stylist, Odnoposoff is free from mannerism in his playing and sounds comfortingly familiar to contemporary ears.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

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Role: Classical Artist 
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1:34:36 PM, 30 May 2016
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