As a young violin student I was brought up on Gioconda De Vito’s 1953 recording of the Brahms concerto, the performance making such a lasting impression that I still use it as my benchmark. She had a special affinity with the score and played it for many of her important European debuts. She was at the peak of her career when at thirty-four this 1941 recording for Deutsche Grammophon was made with the German Opera House Orchestra and the Dutch conductor, Paul van Kempen. Basically she changed her interpretation little between the two recordings, the pace of the opening movement just a fraction more urgent in this performance. In terms of technical assurance there in nothing to choose between them, her quick vibrato bringing a silky smooth quality to the slow passages. Without the benefit of editing you could point to a few slips, but this is musicianship of the highest order, her bowing arm creating long spun phrases. She never looked to be a superstar and from her youngest years she spent much time teaching. That sense of humility you feel throughout her playing, her prime interest residing in the communication of music rather than of herself. She could also be a very powerful player who digs into those passages of double-stopping in the opening movement, the Joachim cadenza as fine as you will hear, while her spiccato in the finale is as clean as a whistle. At times the orchestra sound hard pressed and no match for the Royal Philharmonic in Mozart’s Third Concerto. It is a very loving view, rather more mellow than period awareness would demand today, the muffled quality of the violin tone in the original recording being my one reservation. Another first class transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn.
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