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DURING THE LATE 1930s the Great Depression was still raging. Kreisler, Heifetz, the young Menuhin, Szigeti and Milstein represented the topmost echelon of violinists in box office draw, followed by Elman, Huberman, Spalding, the young Ricci and Morini. Many a European violinistic luminary had made an American debut during the Depression years, hoping for success. Despite everything, the United States was still the Mecca for musical artists, in terms of financial reward.  But in the face of intense competition only a violinist of the very highest qualifications—and one whose musical personality and character were in some measure different from those of the reigning elite—could hope to launch a top-level concertizing career. Such an artist was René Charles (Zino) Francescatti. At thirty-seven, he was already a fully seasoned performer when he made his American debut in November, 1939, playing the Paganini Concerto No. 1 (complete version) with the New York Philharmonic. His rise to stardom had been long and arduous, but he was recognized eventually not only as the heir to Thibaud, once the “greatest French violinist,” but also as one of the world’s leading violinists. Fellow-violinist Henry Roth said: “As a bravura technician, Francescatti belongs in the first rank. And what is more important—he never sacrifices beauty of sound or sincerity of purpose in the interest of technical exhibitionism.”— This collection features never-before-released live performance recordings of favorite concertos and chamber works he excelled in.

Sound restoration (2005): Maggi Payne. 

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CD 1 of 4 (1:08:10): Mozart: Violin Concerto in G Major, K216 (24:09) (Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Andre Cluytens, 11/13/46); Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (43:55) (Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Andre Cluytens, 11/13/46). CD 2 of 4 (1:12:55): Brahms: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 (37:54); (ORTF, Erich Leinsdorf, Lausanne, 5/23/69); Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 (34:54) (ORTF, Paul Klecki, 5/5/70). CD 3 of 4 (1:16:25): Beethoven: Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2 ( 24:14) (Robert Casadesus, 6/30/63); Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108 (21:30) (Eugenio Bagnoli, Besançon, 9/9/58); Prokofiev: Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94 (21:00) (Eugenio Bagnoli, Bordeaux, 5/9/61); Ravel: Tzigane (9:23) (Eugenio Bagnoli, Besançon, 9/9/58). CD 4 of 4 (1:16:23): Bach: Partita No.  1 in B Minor, BWV 1002 (16:29) (Besançon, 9/9/58); Beethoven: Romances: No. 1 in G Major, Op. 40 and  No. 2 in F Major, Op. 50 (14:56); (Eugenio Bagnoli, Bordeaux, 5/9/61); Paganini: Il Palpiti, in A Major, Op. 13 (posth) (8:18) (Eugenio Bagnoli, Bordeaux, 5/9/61); Saint-Saens: Introduction et Rondo Capriciosso in A Minor, Op. 28 (9:27) (Eugenio Bagnoli, Besançon, 9/9/58); Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 (26:55) (ORTF, Antal Dorati, 6/3/72). Sound restoration (2005): Maggi Payne. UPC# 0-17685-11712-1 Special! 4 CDs priced as 3! Not available in France and Germany.

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