Ion Voicu was a legend in his own country, Romania and in the profession at large and appeared in most major musical centres. Yet he was not as well known in the English-speaking countries as he should have been. The long cold war and the dictatorial regime in his native land were mainly to blame for this state of affairs but fortunately Voicu was able to make a few precious recordings on visits to the west.
Ion Voicu was born into the gypsy tradition in Bucharest on 8th October 1923. His father was a violinist and the family could trace their musical involvement back 300 years. He made his concert début aged sixteen with Paganini’s First Concerto.
Ion Voicu died in Bucharest on 24th February 1997. ‘He was an outstanding violinist with a superb technique,’ says his Romanian successor Sherban Lupu. ‘His performances of the Paganini First Concerto were spectacularly memorable. I grew up as a small boy with him as a model for me, an aspiring young student. He was a very pleasant man – I got to know him better in 1974 when he was a member of the jury at the Carl Flesch competition in London and I was a prizewinner.’
His Decca recordings ranged from the popular – the Mendelssohn and Bruch Concertos, a favourite coupling in the LP era – to the highly discriminating. This collection, bringing together his three recordings for Decca, include several twentieth-century sonatas for violin and piano with Monique Haas and Voicu’s compatriot Victoria Stefanescu.
All these recordings receive their first release on CD and Tully Potter provides the insightful liner notes.
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
London Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D major, Op. 94a&*
Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 40*
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor*
Violin Sonata in G major**
Sonata for Solo Violin in G major, Op. 27 No. 5
Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano in F minor, Op. 6**
Monique Haas, piano*
Victoria Stefanescu, piano**
Ion Voicu, violin
FIRST RELEASE ON CD
Recording Producers: John Mordler (Mendelssohn, Bruch, Prokofiev, Milhaud, Debussy); James Walker (Ravel, Ysaÿe, Enescu)
Balance Engineers: James Lock (Mendelssohn, Bruch); Stanley Goodall (Prokofiev, Milhaud, Debussy); Philip Wade (Ravel, Ysaÿe, Enescu)
Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 17–20 February 1965 (Mendelssohn, Bruch), 20–23 June 1967 (Prokofiev, Milhaud, Debussy); Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 21–26 April 1972 (Ravel, Ysaÿe, Enescu)
‘Ion Voicu is a player of considerable quality and with a lot of technique … He plays the Bruch with impeccable technique’ (Bruch, Mendelssohn) Gramophone
‘Ion Voicu has an agreeable warm tone … Monique Haas is superb in the Debussy’ (Prokofiev, Milhaud, Debussy) Gramophone
‘A nicely planned and very well played recital. … Voicu’s playing, for me has an unusually satisfying musical conviction, supported by a virtuoso authority second to none. … Mr. Voicu has a superb legato and plays long melodies gloriously … I find him constantly interesting to listen to.’ (Ravel, Ysaÿe, Enescu) Gramophone