Alfredo Campoli – The Bel Canto Violin Alfredo Campoli – The Bel Canto Violin Alfredo Campoli – The Bel Canto Violin

Alfredo Campoli – The Bel Canto Violin
Alfredo Campoli
Decca Eloquence
Catalogue No.
Collected for the first time and newly remastered, the complete Decca and L’Oiseau-Lyre recordings (1931-78) of Alfredo Campoli, including unpublished tracks and many items never reissued on Decca.

Born into a family of professional musicians in 1906, Alfredo Campoli rapidly took to the violin, and before he turned eighteen, he was already secure in eleven major concertos. He subsequently toured with celebrated singers of the day including Nellie Melba and Clara Butt, before turning his attention to light music. During the 1930s he became a household name in the UK, known simply as ‘Campoli’, for his many recordings and broadcasts, especially with his Salon Orchestra.

Campoli’s impeccable technique and showman’s instincts were combined with a rare purity of tone and beauty of phrasing, often likened to bel canto singing. He began recording for Decca in 1931, and these 78rpm discs have rarely been issued since, but they present the violinist on typically characterful form, in miniatures and arrangements which capture the essence of romantic violin-playing. Several tracks previously unpublished on Decca from a session in June 1940 include transcriptions of Chopin, Grainger and Stephen Foster, where Campoli turns on the charm in quintessential style.

Decca captured the full range of Campoli’s musicianship, from salon-orchestra serenades and Baroque-era sonatas to the first recording of the concerto which Sir Arthur Bliss wrote for him. He brought a special warmth and unmannered pathos to the Violin Concerto by Elgar, under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult in 1954, which stands out as a highlight of his legacy on record.

A larger-than-life figure, keen on tennis and bridge and usually sporting a large cigar, Campoli continued to record for Decca during the LP and stereo eras, his technique undimmed by age. At the age of 73, he returned to the studio for the L’Oiseau-Lyre label, recording an album of Wieniawski which brought his career on record full circle, back to the virtuoso and popular repertoire that had made his name.

This Eloquence set presents Campoli’s legacy in largely chronological order, restoring the original LP couplings, and presenting for the first time on CD stereo versions of Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto No. 3, the Kreisler/Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1 and pieces by Sarasate and Wieniawski. The remastering engineer Mark Obert-Thorn contributes a note focusing on the violinist’s early recordings on 78rpm. First-issue covers and many rare photographs are complemented by a new and illuminating essay by Andrew Dalton, who recalls Campoli in concert in the early 1960s: ‘I was instantly captivated, for a Campoli performance was never routine’.

Released 26 July 2024

CD 1
The Decca 78s – Music by Albéniz, Drigo, Kreisler, Elgar, Bazzini, Lehár, Paderewski, Mozskowski,
Harold Pedlar, piano
Sidney Crooke, piano
Alfredo Campoli Trio

CD 2
The Decca 78s – Music by Handel, Monti, Kreisler, Hubay, Hahn, Raff, Chopin, Foster, Grainger, Gossec,
Sidney Crooke, piano
Welbeck Light String Quartet

CD 3
The Decca 78s – Music by Heykens, Kálmán, J. Strauss II, Waldteufel, Offenbach, Poldini, Fibich,
Alfredo Campoli and the Dorchester Hotel Orchestra
Alfredo Campoli and his Salon Orchestra

CD 4
The Decca 78s – Music by Puccini, Herbert, Elgar, Rubinstein, Mendelssohn, Coates, Raff,
Alfredo Campoli and his Salon Orchestra
Alfredo Campoli and his Grand Orchestra
Alfredo Campoli and his Concert Orchestra

CD 5
TARTINI Violin Sonata, Op. 1 No. 10 ‘Didone abbandonata’
J.S. BACH Arioso (from Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1056)
PAGANINI/KREISLER Caprices, Op. 1 Nos. 13 & 20; La Campanella
J.S. BACH Air (Orchestral Suite No. 3)
KREISLER/PAGANINI Concerto in one movement
CORELLI Violin Sonata, Op. 5 No. 12 ‘La Folia’
Eric Gritton, piano
National Symphony Orchestra / Victor Olof

CD 6
J.S. BACH Partita No. 2
TARTINI Violin Sonata in G minor ‘The Devil’s Trill’*
Music by Bazzini, Hubay, Hummel, Debussy and Corelli*
Eric Gritton, piano

CD 7
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor
Music by Poulenc, Albéniz, Tartini, Ravel, Brahms, Massenet, Chopin, Mozart*
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Eduard van Beinum
Eric Gritton, piano

CD 8
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
Josef Krips

CD 9
HANDEL Violin Sonatas
George Malcolm

CD 10
LALO Symphonie espagnole
SAINT-SAËNS Havanaise; Introduction et Rondo capriccioso
Eduard van Beinum; Anatole Fistoulari

CD 11
Campoli Encores – Music by Dohnányi, Paganini, Fibich, Ponce, Drdla, Fiocco, Heuberger, Mendelssohn,
George Malcolm; Eric Gritton

CD 12
Homage to Fritz Kreisler
Eric Gritton

CD 13
ELGAR Violin Concerto
Adrian Boult

CD 14
TARTINI Violin Sonatas – ‘Devil’s Trill’ & ‘Didone abbandonata’
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1
George Malcolm; Royalton Kisch

CD 15
BLISS Violin Concerto
Theme and Cadenza
Arthur Bliss

CD 16
SAINT-SAËNS Violin Concerto No. 3
KREISLER/PAGANINI Concerto in one movement
SARASATE Zigeunerweisen
Piero Gamba

CD 17
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto
Swan Lake (dances)
Ataúlfo Argenta; Anatole Fistoulari

CD 18
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto
BRUCH Scottish Fantasy
Adrian Boult

CD 19
Campoli Encores – Music by Albéniz, Bazzini, Brahms, Yamada, Paganini/Kreisler, Mozart
Norihiko Wada

CD 20
SARASATE Danzas españolas; Navarra
Daphne Ibbott

CD 21
WIENIAWSKI Music for Violin & Piano
Daphne Ibbott


“Played by Alfredo Campoli with skill and sensibility.” Gramophone, November 1931 (Kreisler/Albéniz)

“Offenbach’s music … is particularly suited to orchestras like Alfredo Campoli’s Salon Orchestra, and they have made a melodious and musicianly record.” Gramophone, May 1932

“Campoli has coupled Annie Laurie with Londonderry Air to make what must surely be a very popular record of this increasingly popular player.” Gramophone, March 1934

“Campoli, whose playing throughout is most musicianly and lovely in tone, has a worthy partner in George Malcolm.” Gramophone, January 1953 (Handel: Sonatas)

“These are thoroughly satisfying performances by a violinist whose name should be better known in [the US]. The playing is technically adroit, tonally warm and well recorded, with a lot of space around the performers.” High Fidelity, July-August 1953 (Handel: Sonatas)

“A splendid performance … Campoli, who has lately exhibited his brilliant technical powers in Sir Arthur Bliss’s new work, is fully equal to the demands of Elgar’s.” Musical Times, July 1955 (Elgar: Violin Concerto)

“On this delightful disc, Campoli makes his violin sing in a way that would have fascinated and seduced … 18th-century listeners, could they but hear him … a virtuoso performance that is at the same time a deeply felt interpretation of two of the finest of Tartini’s solo sonatas.” Gramophone, September 1955 (Tartini: Sonatas)

“A beautiful]y, poetic, understated reading … it possesses qualities which are all too rare in today’s music mart.” Stereo Review, May 1959 (Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, with Eduard van Beinum)

“Campoli has always been among the most stylish and dependable performers of the Romantic repertoire.” Stereo Review, July 1971 (Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto with Adrian Boult)

“An immensely stylish fiddler … Campoli understands the gypsy style to the manner born and his timbre is sweet, his intonation true. This 1977 recording is remarkably well balanced and truthful.” Gramophone, June 1993 (Sarasate: Spanish Dances)

“Ideal, both in terms of Campoli’s emotional commitment to the work and Boult’s mastery of the score. They achieve a comprehensive overview of an absolute masterpiece.” Gramophone, May 2018 (Elgar: Violin Concerto)

Campoli’s strong personality, melting tone, and technical sizzle … seemed ideally suited to the salon repertoire … most violinists, including the most famous ones, could have profited from listening to Campoli.” Fanfare, July 2018

 “The Tartini and Handel sonatas with George Malcolm (piano in the former, harpsichord in the latter) are above all lyrically phrased and intensely human, eschewing even the tiniest whiff of applied scholarship, much in the manner of Menuhin’s, Heifetz’s and Elman’s performances of Baroque music, though Campoli’s approach is rather less intense than theirs.” Gramophone, May 2018

“a performance of the Larghetto [of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto] in which Campoli’s faultless intonation will likely leave you breathless … I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more moving recorded account of this lovable perennial.” Gramophone, May 2018

“Campoli, like Kreisler, was a gentleman fiddler whose playing combines honesty, urbanity and unexpected bursts of brilliance. I’d thoroughly recommend these superbly remastered recordings to anyone who cares about quality violin playing.” Gramophone, May 2018

“Campoli understands the gypsy style to the manner born and his timbre is sweet, his intonation true. He is not the man for unrestrained hyperbole, yet the moto perpetuos are effortless” Gramophone (Sarasate) Gramophone