Thursday, January 27, 2011

Menuhin plays Delius

It is not enough just to have the concert favorites of Delius, Suites,  and A Village Romeo and Juliet.  I saw this one on line.  Of several, it was the last to come, because it had to come from Europe.  The recordings are not very old (1980 and 1981), late analog originally and very fine.
When I was little, my grandfather had an acoustical recording of Master Yehudi Menuhin, age 12,** and I always have liked his recordings in each successive format; his violin is more introspective than most, though, certainly, he possessed virtuosity; he didn't flaunt it.
When I saw the listing of the Delius sonatas, which I didn't know anyhow, I thought how much I'd like to hear Menuhin on Delius.  I've had the CD (actually a pair of CDs) for ten hours now and have been listening to them ever since.
After half a lifetime not paying serious attention to Delius, I finally decided to pay him the same attention as I do Britten, which he certainly repays.  And yes, I think that Menuhin is perfect for the violin sonatas.
It is a lifetime habit, to immerse myself in one composer, or genre, or painter at a time.  Probably everyone does that.
** The dates don't jibe.  I'll see if I can find the disk.  He was born in 1916, and for EMI recorded first at age 13.  The record, as I remember it, was a Victrola red-seal.   My grandfather may have told me that he was only 12.  But I may be wrong that it was one-sided.  So call it a typical problem of early memory.

P.S. Not too bad; he not only was still "Master" but was still with Louis Persinger.  Judging from that Maestronet.pdf (link on Persinger) a likely date would be 1925-1927, so even younger than 12.  The Victrola record is electric (VE; 'Orthophonic') and two-sided, but that label looks rather early to me, and the repertoire is not that of an adult musician.  I'll ask a friend how to look up the numbers, which will give a precise date.  For recording experts, here, below, is the label (A and B).  click on image to zoom.

P.S. again: I have corrected the spelling of 'Menuhin'.  To my surprise, I did not find a matrix number list for the red-seal issues (though I found one for the pop black-seal of the same period).  There is an excellent list for Stokowski and the Philadelphia orchestra; comparing the numbers for 10" releases suggests 1927-8.  The "Scroll"-design labels with the VE and 'Orthophonic' and 'Victrola' date between 1925 (but initially without the scroll design) and 1928 (when the name changed to RCA Victor—bought out).  The numbers don't jibe with those shared with HMV.  The authors of the Stokowski and G&S sites remark that Victor was sometimes cavalier about matrix numbers.  Therefore, that Master Yehudi Menuhin, as I suppose the man at the record store told my grandfather, was 12 years old is possible, but he was not older.  I found exactly my record in an online auction list, but without any documentary value beyond the contents of the label.  Comparison with the John McCormack discography suggests that the recording was not long after January 1928 and this pressing before the change to RCA Victor.
Label of early Menhuin 78rpm, cited above