Thursday, January 12, 2017

Berl Senofsky in Concert - a legend returns

Berl Senofsky, though an influential and respected artist, didn't record a lot. So his reputation rests mainly on accounts of those who heard him in performance or studied with him.

This new release adds to his slender catalog of recordings and provides some additional insight into his artistry. It's a recording of Senofsky's recital at the Expo '58, Brussels.

He had won the Queen Elisabeth International Competition prize at the age of 29 -- the unanimous selection of judges David Oistrakh, Yehudi Menuhin, and Zino Francescatti. This recital recorded just three years later, hints at what those prize-winning performances were like.

The recording has been lovingly remastered with minimal tinkering (that I can hear). It's a rich, warm, analog sound that places Senofsky front and center in the audio mix.

I could easily hear the delicacy of Senofsky's tone, especially in quiet passages. Long notes sounded full and well-rounded. Double and triple stops were executed cleanly and clearly heard in the recording.

Senofsky plays in an old-fashioned style, but with a more restrained vibrato than most prewar artists. It's a sound that's both of its time and one that transcends it through the beauty of his expressiveness.

Especially fine, I think, are the Ysäye Sonata No. 6, Op. 27, and Bach's Chaconne from the Partita No. 2, BWV 1004. Not to take anything away from the performances with pianist Marie Louise Bastyns, but when Senofsky played alone, I was enthralled.

Berl Senofsky In Concert at EXPO '58 Brussels
Berl Senofsky, violin; Marie Louise Bastyns, piano
Bridge Records 9470

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