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Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, September 2014

The Gramophone Collection: Paganini’s Violin Concerto No 1 “Best Historical”

Yehudi Menuhin was only 18 years old when he and Monteux made the first complete recording of the concerto in May 1934, just two years after his celebrated recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto. Eighty years later, it leaves most other versions trailing in its wake—‘a fusion of the carefree and scholarly’, as the Naxos booklet-notes suggest. © 2014 Gramophone

Gramophone, March 2007

Naxos's Historicals offer a fascinating mix of benchmark classics and unexpected rarities. Two new issues are typical. The first gathers together some early recordings by Yehudi Menuhin, most spectacularly Paganini's First Violin Concerto under Pierre Monteux, oft reissued from well recorded 1934 78s but never sounding better than it does here. The playing is both rapturously beautiful and dazzlingly acrobatic, Menuhin on peak technical form playing the entire score with Sauret's first-movement cadenza. Mozart's Third Concerto under Enescu is also youthful and sweet-sounding, though, as Tully Potter suggests in his informed booklet essay, Menuhin would later dig a little deeper behind the notes. Novacek's Perpetuum mobile has a touch of devilry about it but the rarity is Chausson's Poeme - not the well known early version under Enescu but a 1952 recording under Boult, less good to be honest, and Ward Marston must have had his work cut out with some very tricky edits/side-joins (there's a very odd one at around 6'38").

Jeremy Nicholas
Classic FM, February 2007

I do hope that listeners can get past the surface noise and sonic restrictions of these performances from 1934-52 by the young Menuhin because the playing is fabulous. The Mozart concerto is conducted by Menuhin's mentor George Enescu, the Paganini by Pierre Monteux. The latter was the first complete recording of the work (1934) from a 16-year-old Menuhin, and includes the horribly difficult cadenza by Emile Sauret. The Boult/Menuhin Poème is a famous recording, but I wish for the sake of consistency that Naxos had chosen Menuhin's 1933 account with Enescu instead.

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