Sunday, July 26, 2015

Henryk Szeryng Plays Bach (1955)

Polish-born violinist Henryk Szeryng was probably the finest product of Carl Flesch's legendary teaching career. Possessing an iron technique and a musical intellect of rare insight, Szeryng established himself as one of the pre-eminent concert violinists of the post-World War II decades. Szeryng was born in 1918 to a wealthy Polish industrialist whose wife had a great love of music. Studies on the piano were abandoned for the violin, though Szeryng remained skilled at the keyboard for the rest of his life. Szeryng progressed quickly on his new instrument and by age nine was sufficiently proficient to perform the Mendelssohn concerto for famed violinist Bronislaw Hubermann, a friend of the family. On Hubermann's advice Szeryng was sent to Berlin to study with Carl Flesch; Szeryng would later declare that his technical prowess was solely due to that masterful teacher's influence. Two years later in 1933, Szeryng made his debut performance in Warsaw with the Beethoven concerto under Bruno Walter. That same year he embarked on a minor concert tour, soloing with orchestras in Bucharest, Vienna, and Paris. Szeryng immediately took to the city of Paris and settled there for a period of further study and growth as a performer. There he came under the influence of legendary violinists Enescu and Thibaud, though he did not formally study with either. Szeryng also thought about pursuing composition as a career, and for six years took lessons from Nadia Boulanger. At the outbreak of war in 1939 Szeryng enlisted with the Polish army. Being fluent in seven languages, he was assigned to General Sikorski as a translator, with whom Szeryng helped to relocate hundreds of Polish refugees in Mexico. During the war Szeryng gave hundreds of concerts for Allied troops around the globe, and in 1943, during a concert series in Mexico City, was invited to take over the string department at the University of Mexico. Szeryng accepted the offer, and assumed his duties in 1946. He spent the next ten years in Mexico, and eventually took citizenship there. Performing infrequently, Szeryng was largely forgotten in the musical centers of Europe. A chance encounter with fellow Pole Artur Rubinstein in Mexico City convinced Szeryng to re-enter the musical scene. A New York debut in 1956 immediately established Szeryng as a leading violinist of the day, and for the next 30 years Szeryng divided his time between a globe-trotting concert schedule and his teaching duties in Mexico. As a violinist Szeryng was unique; sometimes criticized for being too restrained, he was nevertheless capable of playing with warmth and fire when he felt compelled to do so (as in his magnificent performances of the Sibelius concerto). His excellent recordings include two full sets of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, as well as the major violin concertos in the repertory (he has also championed and recorded the work of many composers from his adopted country of Mexico). Recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas with Artur Rubinstein are particularly rewarding. Of note also is Szeryng's world-premiere recording of Paganini's E major Violin Concerto n° 3, which Szeryng himself reconstructed from parts held in the archives of the legendary Italian violinist's heirs. Szeryng could at times be somewhat inconsistent. In live performances his calculated precision might turn cold, and in later years it is rumored that troubles with alcohol led to a somewhat deteriorated technical ability. Until his death in 1988 he traveled with a Mexican diplomatic passport, and was involved in various humanitarian projects through the United Nations ; Szeryng never ceased believing in music as a unifying, healing power.
Blair Johnston

Source :

Henryk Szeryng
Johann Sebastian Bach

Sonatas & Partitas
solo Violin


Cd. 1

Sonata n° 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
1 I. Adagio  4:19
2 II. Fuga. Allegro  5:42
3 III. Siciliano  3:26
4 IV. Presto  2:40

Partita n° 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002
5 I. Allemande  4:54
6 II. Double  2:09
7 III. Courante  2:17
8 IV. Double. Presto  2:54
9 V. Sarabande  2:32
10 VI. Double  1:28
11 VII. Tempo di Bourrée  2:25
12 VIII. Double  2:06

Sonata n° 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003
13 I. Grave  4:19
14 II. Fuga  8:10
15 III. Andante  5:12
16 IV. Allegro  4:27


Cd. 2

Partita n° 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
1 I. Allemande  3:32
2 II. Courante  2:14
3 III. Sarabande  4:02
4 IV. Gigue  3:18
5 V. Chaconne  14:00

Sonata n° 3 in C Major, BWV 1005
6 I. Adagio  4:41
7 II. Fuga. Alla breve  11:55
8 III. Largo  4:08
9 IV. Allegro assai  3:57

Partita n° 3 in E Major, BWV 1006
10 I. Preludio  3:46
11 II. Loure  3:03
12 III. Gavotte en rondeau  3:05
13 IV. Menuett I  1:13
14 V. Menuett II  1:18
15 VI. Bourrée  1:07
16 VII. Gigue  1:30


Henryk Szeryng - vl

Recorded 1954

By December 1954 th[is] complete set of Henryk Szeryng was issued in France on Odéon ODX-122/123/124. The set became available in other European countries in the spring of 1955, however not in Great Britain. Initially this set was available in Europe only until it was made available in the USA as Schwann Artist Listings of 1960 mentions. The Odeon Set introduced Henryk Szeryng to the American record collector and the availability most certainly must have resulted in Szeryng's contract with RCA a few years later and his subsequent liaison with Mercury (and Philips).
In 1962, Columbia Records (CBS) bought labels in various European countries in order to cover European soil by themselves and no longer by licensing to European record labels. In the Netherlands Columbia bought Artone, in France Odéon. Now the original Odeon recordings were issued in France and other European countries (except Great Britain) as CBS 51068/69/70. American record collectors had to wait until the fall of 1968 for the French CBS LPs to be issued in the USA on Columbia's Odyssee label as a 3 LP set with reference 32 36 0013. The reissue was opportune because of the release in October 1968 of Szeryng's new recordings made in stereo for Deutsche Grammophon, reference SLPM 139/1/2.
Rudolf A. Bruil

Source :
See also


seegs said...

Terrific post. Thank you, Melanchthon

hamfat said...

Thanks - my favorite violinist ever.

Melanchthon said...

Cd. 1
Cd. 2

Ананасий Непитин said...

Very interesting recording in order of acquaintance to Szeryng gradual ascension to his late renditions style.
i do prefer the last (DG) rendition of Bach's sonatas and partitas, but also cherish the two earlier variants.

Arewenotmen? said...

Un "must" de plus... mais où va t'il chercher tout çà, pour notre plus grand plaisir.... merci !

musician3 said...

AMAZING.....................THANK YOU FOR ALL