Bronisław Gimpel (violin)
Violin Concertos
rec. 1955-1960
Biddulph 85024-2 [75 + 72]

The reissue carousel has been good to Bronisław Gimpel. Many of his most important recordings have been reinstated, often in competing transfers, and such is the case with this Biddulph twofer. Of the five works, I’ve previously reviewed four when they appeared on Forgotten Records, the Beethoven (review) where it was coupled with the two Romances, and the Paganini and Lalo in the same label’s transfers (review). This French label clearly shares my admiration for Gimpel because they also transferred the Tchaikovsky (review) and the Mendelssohn.

This leaves me only the Wieniawski Second Concerto to review afresh but fortunately it contains a compendium of Gimpel’s greatest talents. Incidentally you’ll find a Berlin radio broadcast of this concerto, where Gimpel is accompanied by the RIAS Symphony Orchestra and Alfred Gohlke, along with the Sibelius, Szymanowski Second and a host of important chamber works on Audite 21418. The Wieniawski in Biddulph’s release, part of Gimpel’s Vox legacy, is with the Southwest German Radio Orchestra (Baden-Baden) under Rolf Reinhardt and recorded in 1956. It was something of a feature of his discography that he teamed up with second tier German orchestras and conductors but such is his force of conviction, his gleaming romanticist tone, his expressive cantilena and bravura technique that all ears are on the soloist.

The Wieniawski is songfully dispatched, piquant and ultra-colourful, and stunningly emoted throughout. The slow movement is truly beautiful – and something of a Gimpel favourite – whilst the finale is gleeful, full of biting wit and verve, and rhythmically vivid.

Though it doesn’t fall under the Vox rubric, Gimpel recorded an all-Wieniawski LP for the Polish Muza label with the Warsaw National Philharmonic conducted by Arnold Rezler. All the old chestnuts for violin and orchestra are here but one or two rarer items too, all played with bewitching intensity by Gimpel. I hope some label reissues it.

If this Biddulph concerto line-up appeals, you should also investigate the Vox twofer on CDX25523 which contains the concertos by Dvořák, Bruch and Goldmark and a raft of orchestrally-accompanied Kreisler. But why stop there?  Try Melo Classic too, with its own trio of broadcast concertos (see review).

This release comes with fine background notes from Tully Potter and some good transfers, apart from a mistakenly protracted pause from the cadential passage into the finale of the Beethoven.

Jonathan Woolf

Help us financially by purchasing from

Presto Music

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 (1806)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Heinrich Hollreiser
rec. February 1955
Édouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 (1874)
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Fritz Rieger
rec. April 1956
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35 (1878)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Johannes Schüler
rec. 1960
Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, Op.22 (1862)
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No.1 in D major, Op. 6 (1810s); free transcription as Concerto in One Movement arr. Wilhelmj
Southwest German Radio Orchestra (Baden-Baden)/Rolf Reinhardt
rec. 1956