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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Szigeti’s searching and magical account of the Concerto enjoys legendary status. Made in 1932, when he was at the height of his career, it has the refinement and purity for which he was famous. It belongs among the foremost versions of the Concerto on record and is not be to be missed in this fine new Naxos transfer.

Richard Perry
Ottawa Citizen, April 2002

"If, however, you are looking for a deeper level of personal involvement, more heart, you may well have to reflect back to violinists of an earlier generation. Joseph Szigeti's style of playing in the Beethoven Violin Concerto (with the London Philharmonic under Beecham) and the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4 (with the British Symphony under Bruno Walter) on a Naxos Historical disc simply will never be heard on stages today. In Szigeti's time (these performances date from 1934 and 1932 respectively), the violin was not so much an instrument to be played perfectly, but an agent through which the individual voice of the player could be heard. The score was a template for personal interpretation; through the score the greatest instrumentalists expressed the heart, mind and soul of cultures seemingly infinitely richer in emotional depth than our own. Every phrase in Szigeti's playing seems to be part of a meaningful dialogue between the composer and the fiddler, and between the fiddler and the listener. Not a bar seems perfunctory, and one never thinks about surface accuracy or virtuosity, accepting portamento in Mozart or a rough note in Beethoven only as expressive, personal accents in the shaping and articulation of a musical idea. Mark Obert-Thorn's restorations are miraculous."

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, January 2002

"Naxos's great violinists series has now extended its area of exploration beyond Heifetz, Kreisler and Menuhin with two issues featuring Adolf Busch and Joseph Szigeti. Both releases enjoy the benefits of Mark Obert-Thorn's wonderfully natural-sounding transfers and afford many delights for the listener...The Szigeti Thirties recordings of the D major concertos of Mozart and Beethoven are stylish and immaculate with orchestral accompaniments from Beecham and Walter that are strongly characterized if occasionally wilful."

Jed Distler, November 2001

"Multiple CD editions of 78-era recordings continue to flood the historic reissue bins while collectors go nuts trying to figure out which transfers are the ones to get. And now the busier transfer agents are actually remastering certain items that they transferred years ago for other labels. Just as we can compare at least six Herbert von Karajan-led versions of the Beethoven Seventh, we can measure Ward Marston's Naxos Caruso transfers against his earlier Caruso edition for Pearl, or even A/B Seth Winner's two separate Pearl transfers of the acoustic Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 with Benno Moiseiwitsch. Mark Obert-Thorn's new Naxos transfer of Joseph Szigeti's justly famous 1932 Beethoven is another case in point. It markedly improves upon Obert-Thorn's transfer of the same recording issued by Pearl in 1990.

Surface noise is considerably reduced yet the instrumental choirs bloom with greater clarity in relation to the solo violin (compare both transfers in the first few minutes of the Rondo and you'll hear what I mean). With more openness on top, the pungency of Szigeti's tone hits closer to home, especially in lyrical, sustained passages. This first of Szigeti's three commercial Beethoven Concerto recordings preserves the great violinist's most fluent, lustrously projected, and technically secure traversal of the solo part, along with modified versions of Joachim's cadenzas. I still find Bruno Walter's support overly deferential and relatively shapeless in comparison to his firmer, symphonically oriented New York Philharmonic account, albeit with a more tremulous, technically frayed Szigeti in tow.

Likewise, the Szigeti/Beecham Mozart D major Concerto sounds altogether rosier, less strident and nasal than in an EMI CD transfer effected from superior source material. Beecham, as you may know, recorded this work with Jascha Heifetz 15 years later, and it's interesting to contrast Heifetz's laser-like sonority and inhumanly even vibrato alongside Szigeti's more astringent yet expressively varied palette. Szigeti makes the best case for Joachim's curiously elaborate and not-too-stylish cadenzas. Even if you already own these performances, Obert-Thorn's upgraded transfers are well worth Naxos' paltry price. Let's hope the great 1928 Szigeti Brahms Concerto with Hamilton Harty will appear on this label soon."

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