Toscha Seidel (violin)
Rare and Newly Re-mastered!
rec. 1918-45

So far as I know – and Japan and Taiwan lurk somewhat beyond my purview, though they’re extremely active in the restoration business – there have not been any releases devoted to the art of the molten-toned Auer-student Toscha Seidel for many a long year. APR released four American Columbias and three RCA Victors decades ago in volume 2 of their ‘The Auer Legacy’ boxes and Symposium has released the odd piece. The live broadcast performance of the Chausson Poème with Stokowski has been released several times. However, unless I’ve missed a big ‘Complete Seidel’ box somewhere or other, the lack of his recordings in the catalogue is simply baffling and that’s where this succinct 79-minute selection comes in handy.

The recordings date from 1918 to 1929 with the exception of the 1945 Chausson. They reveal his vibrant tone and sensual aura as well as his communicative slides (in Achron’s Hebrew Melody). His Kreisler is manly, irreproachably self-confident and oozes tonal lustre and allure, elastically phrased (Schön Rosmarin), vibrantly vibrated and fulsome, with gorgeous double stops (Ave Maria). These are electrically recorded and amongst the best sounding Seidel recordings, revealing the full panoply of his variegated tonal resources.

Thereafter there is a long series of predominantly acoustic discs, though Seidel surmounts the relative limitations easily. His characteristic liquidity and timbral beauty can be heard in the slow movement of Wieniawski’s Second Concerto, though accompanist Louis T Gruneberg is too backwardly placed, an ever-present danger in these recordings. Hejre Kati is heard in a noise-suppressed crackly copy whilst Kreisler’s Caprice viennois shows Seidel’s individual approach to rhythmic elasticity, though it’s full of elan and tonal breadth once again. If you need a standout piece, amongst many standouts, try Mischa Elman’s arrangement of Ständchen where Seidel’s lustrous, singing tone is under perfect control and beautifully equalized throughout the scale; one of the great violin records. But so many Seidel records are like that; memorable, beautiful and unique in depth of tonal beauty.

American Columbia was very parsimonious with concertos and their British arm was already releasing complete concerto recordings when Seidel was given a Lalo/Mendelssohn coupling, with orchestral backing. The Mendelssohn finale is horribly cut – and badly cut too, which all the more irritating as it was a 12” disc.  One might be more sympathetic had it been a 10”. In his native Russian repertoire he proves an admirable exponent of Cui’s Orientale and in Kreisler’s arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Chanson Arabe – though it’s a rather noisy copy – his vibrato offers Rolls Royce richness. With yet another accompanist, here Max Rabinowitsch, he offers a beautifully voiced Saint-Saëns Prélude whilst with Harry Kaufman he playfully phrases Paderewski’s Minuet in G. D’Ambrosio’s evergreen Canzonetta is irradiated with the kind of languid warmth that no performer today could hope to emulate, or would dare to, even if he could.

Seidel broadcast Chausson’s Poème with Stokowski and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony in 1945, and the combination of two masters of the luscious provides a rhapsody of fervour and colour. The recording quality may only be so-so but the performance is a voluptuary’s paradise. To follow it and thus end the disc with John Kellette’s I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles courts triviality but strangely shows how a great artist can transmute base metal into gold.

Seidel was always heard at his best in vignette items. In larger-scaled works it’s noticeable, to the great regret and disappointment of violin aficionados, that he lacked necessary afflatus. This disc fulfils a necessary gap admirably, restoring Seidel’s recordings – but by no means all his recordings – in fine style.

Jonathan Woolf 

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Presto Music

Joseph Achron (1886-1943)
Hebrew Melody, Op. 33
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Schön Rosmarin
Caprice Viennois, Op. 2
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Ave Maria, D839
Ständchen ‘Leise flehen meine Lieder’, D957 No. 4
Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22: Romance
Jenő Hubay (1858-1937)
Scène de la csárda No. 4 ‘Hejre Kati’, Op. 32
Edouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21: Andante
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64: Finale
César Cui (1835-1918)
Orientale, Op. 50 No. 9
Alfred Margis (1874-1913)
Valse Bleue
Harry T Burleigh (1866-1949)
Indian Snake Dance
Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov (1844-1908)
Chanson Arabe
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Prélude to Le Deluge Op. 45
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941)
Minuet in G major, Op. 14 No. 1
Alfredo d’Ambrosio (1871-1914) 
Canzonetta, Op. 6
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Pièce Op. 39
John Kellette (1873-1922)
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles