Ruggiero Ricci Complete American Decca Recordings (9CD)
Ruggiero Ricci
Label
Decca Eloquence
Catalogue No.
4841988
Barcode
00028948419883
Format
9-CD
Video
About

Several legendary but long-unavailable recordings freshly remastered in a comprehensive ‘original covers’ set of Ruggiero Ricci’s recordings for American Decca during the 1960s.

With definitive accounts of the Tchaikovsky Concerto and the Paganini Caprices recorded in 1950, Ruggiero Ricci became established as a Decca artist in the early days of LP. A decade later he began recording for Decca’s American division, and between 1960 and 1970 he made nine albums of solo, recital and concerto repertoire which are gathered here in one set for the first time.
Ricci had already recorded some of the solo Bach sonatas and partitas, but in 1967 he made his first complete set for American Decca. Tully Potter’s illuminating booklet essay explains how a snowstorm forced Ricci to hole up in a hotel for several days prior to the sessions, and his devoted his time to perfecting his interpretations of Bach.

Ricci was renowned for the astonishing virtuosity that enabled him to tackle the Caprices and Concertos of Paganini without breaking sweat – he became the first great exponent of the composer in the LP era with his Decca recordings – and he remade the Second Concerto for American Decca in 1964 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Max Rudolf: one of several albums here receiving its first international release on CD.

The American Decca legacy of Ricci also included several ‘concept albums’ which soon became collector’s items. The set opens with the first of them from 1964, on which the violinist plays The Four Seasons of Vivaldi on four different Strads, one for each concerto, with a string ensemble fielding another ten Strads for a uniquely rich string sound. Two years earlier, Ricci had made “The Glory of Cremona”, which saw him play fifteen priceless violins in sessions attended by two security guards. Even these two projects pale beside the astonishing virtuosity on display in “Bravura!”, which collects some of Ricci’s favourite “knuckle-breakers” by Paganini, Wieniawski and Ernst.

The set closes with another album new to CD, “Violin Plus 1” from 1970, which paired Ricci with five different musicians for a unique display of his versatility, accompanying soprano Lee Venora in Villa-Lobos, taking the spotlight in a Saint-Saëns Fantaisie for violin and harp, and meeting David Nadien as an equal in the Sonata for Two Violins by Prokofiev. As well as one of the last century’s most spell-binding technicians on the violin, Ricci was a complete musician, to whom this set pays eloquent tribute.

TRACK LISTING / ARTISTS

CD 1
ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678–1741)
Concertos for Violin, Strings and Continuo, Op. 8 Nos. 1–4 ‘Le quattro stagioni’ (The Four Seasons)
Ruggiero Ricci, violin / conductor; Stradivarius Chamber Orchestra

CD 2
NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A major, Op. 20
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra / Max Rudolf

CD 3
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
Sonata No. 1 in G minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1001*
Partita No. 1 in B minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1002*
Sonata No. 2 in A minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1003*
Ruggiero Ricci, violin

CD 4
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
Partita No. 2 in D minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004*
Sonata No. 3 in C major for Solo Violin, BWV 1005*
Partita No. 3 in E major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006*
Ruggiero Ricci, violin

CD 5
PABLO DE SARASATE (1844–1908)
8 Danzas españolas
Introduction et Tarantelle, Op. 43
Caprice basque, Op. 24
Serenata andaluza, Op. 28
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Brooks Smith, piano
FIRST RELEASE ON CD

CD 6
FRITZ KREISLER (1875–1962)
Praeludium and Allegro ‘in the style of Pugnani’
Siciliano and Rigaudon ‘in the Style of Francoeur’
Chanson Louis XIII and Pavane ‘in the style of Couperin’
Rondino on a theme by Beethoven
Variations on a theme by Corelli ‘in the style of Tartini’
Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice, Op. 6 (for solo violin)
Caprice viennois
Tambourin chinois
Liebesfreud
Liebesleid
Schön Rosmarin
La Gitana
The Old Refrain
La Chasse ‘in the style of Cartier’
‘Meet The Masters’ – Ruggiero Ricci interviewed by Victor Alexander*
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Brooks Smith, piano
*FIRST RELEASE ON CD

CD 7
THE GLORY OF CREMONA
JEAN-ANTOINE DESPLANES (1678–1760)
Intrada

PIETRO NARDINI (1722–1793)
Larghetto [Adagio] (from Violin Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, arr. David)

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678–1741)
Preludio (from Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 2 No. 7, RV 8)

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Cantabile e Valser, Op. 19

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
Adagio (from Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, KV 282, arr. Friedberg)

DIMITRY KABALEVSKY (1904–1987)
Improvisation for Violin and Piano, Op. 21 No. 1

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
Mélodie in E flat major, Op. 42 No. 3 (from Souvenir d’un lieu cher)

FRANCESCO MARIA VERACINI (1690–1768)
Largo (from Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 2 No. 6)

MARIA THERESIA VON PARADIS (1759–1824)
Sicilienne

JENŐ HUBAY (1858–1937)
Violin Solo, Op. 40a (from The Violin Maker of Cremona)

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685–1759)
Andante (from Flute Sonata in B minor, HWV 367b. arr. as ‘Larghetto’ by Hubay)

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
Romance in A major, Op. 94 No. 2 (arr. Kreisler)

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Hungarian Dance No. 20 in E minor, WoO 1 (arr. Kreisler)
Hungarian Dance No. 17 in F sharp minor WoO 1 (arr. Kreisler)

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)
Lied ohne Worte, Op. 62 No. 1: Andante espressivo ‘May Breezes’ (arr. Kreisler)

MAX BRUCH (1838–1920)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 (excerpt) – Played on 15 different violins
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Leon Pommers, piano
FIRST INTERNATIONAL RELEASE ON CD

CD 8
BRAVURA!
PIETRO LOCATELLI (1695–1764)C
Capriccio (from The Harmonic Labyrinth, Op. 3 No. 12)

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Introduction and Variations on ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ for solo violin

HEINRICH WILHELM ERNST (1812–1865)
Airs Hongrois Variés, Op. 22

FRANZ VON VECSEY (1893–1935)
Caprice No. 1: Le Vent

HENRYK WIENIAWSKI (1835–1880)
Les Arpèges – Variations sur L’Hymne Autrichien (No. 6 of L’École moderne, Op. 10)

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Variations on a theme of Joseph Weigl

HEINRICH WILHELM ERNST (1812–1865)
Variations on ‘The Last Rose Of Summer’ for solo violin

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Variations on ‘God Save the King’ for solo violin, Op. 9
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Leon Pommers, piano
FIRST RELEASE ON CD

CD 9
VIOLIN PLUS 1
ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678–1741)
Sonata in A major for Violin and Continuo, Op. 2 No. 2, RV 31
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Kenneth Cooper, harpsichord

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Fantaisie for Violin and Harp, Op. 124
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Gloria Agostini, harp

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782–1840)
Sonata No. 12 in E minor for Violin and Guitar, Op. 3 No. 6
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Rolando Valdés-Blain, guitar

HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS (1887–1959)
Suite for Voice and Violin
Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Lee Venora, soprano

SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)
Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56
Ruggiero Ricci, violin I; David Nadien, violin II
FIRST RELEASE ON CD

STEREO RECORDINGS

Recording information

CD 1
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: New York, USA, 20–21 July 1964
Original American Decca Release: DL7 9423: November 1964

CD 2
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, 13 October 1964
Original American Decca Release: DL7 10106: February 1965

CD 3
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: USA, 31 January 1967, 6 February 1967 (Sonata No. 1, Partita No. 1); 2–3 February 1967 (Sonata No. 2)
Original American Decca Releases: DL7 10142 (Sonata No. 1, Partita No. 1): September 1967; DL7 10151 (Sonata No. 2): January 1968

CD 4
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: USA, 2–3 February 1967 (Partita No. 2); 31 July, 2 August 1967 (Sonata No. 3, Partita No. 3)
Original American Decca Releases: DL7 10151 (Partita No. 2): January 1968; DL7 10152 (Sonata No. 3, Partita No. 3): March 1968

CD 5
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: New York, USA, 5–8 September 1961
Original American Decca Release: DL7 10044: January 1962

CD 6
Recording Producers: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: New York, USA, 7–8 September 1961 (Kreisler); 1962 (interview)
Original American Decca Releases: DL7 10052 (Kreisler): April 1962; DL 34031 (interview): 1962

CD 7
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: Decca Studios, New York, USA, 26–28 June 1962
Original American Decca Releases: DL7 10082 (The Glory of Cremona), DL 34172 (Bruch), DXSE 7179 (The Glory of Cremona – deluxe version, including Bruch): October 1963

CD 8
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: New York, USA, 11 January 1968 (Locatelli, Ernst: The Last Rose of Summer, Paganini: God Save the King), 18 June 1965 (Paganini: Nel cor più non mi sento, Wieniawski), 27–28 October 1965 (Ernst: Airs Hongrois Variés, Vecsey, Paganini: Variations on a theme of Joseph Weigl)
Original American Decca Release: DL7 10172: March 1970
Tape Transfers: Harvey Birrell, FX Copyroom, UK

CD 9
Recording Producer: Israel Horowitz
Recording Location: New York, USA, January–March 1970
Original American Decca Release: DL7 10177: August 1970
Tape Transfers: Harvey Birrell, FX Copyroom, UK

Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer

Reviews

“He plays most beautifully in both works, displaying a silvery, lustrous tone and a lean, assertive, bravura style.” High Fidelity, May 1965 (Paganini, Saint-Saëns concertos)

“Ricci is his customary virtuoso self, yet perhaps even more admirable for his variety of tonal colouring than for his sheer technical dexterity … [an] imaginatively chosen, scintillatingly played, and powerfully recorded program.” Stereo Review, March 1966 (Paganini, Saint-Saëns concertos)

“Altogether brilliant performances here. The warmth of his tone on the G string, the clarity of his harmonics, his clean spiccato bowing, and the overall Hispanic quality of his glowing interpretations add up to superlative fiddling.” High Fidelity, May 1962 (Sarasate)

“Ricci plays with fervour and sparkling buoyancy throughout … Decca’s sound is pure and gleaming.” High Fidelity, July 1962 (Kreisler)

“This recording is one that all fiddle fanciers will insist on having … Ricci plays everything with gorgeous tone and impeccable technique.” Stereo Review, February 1964 (“The Glory of Cremona”)

“The fourteen Stradivari instruments gathered together for this recording produce a fine display of string tone. Ricci brings tremendous zest and bite to the solo part.” High Fidelity, December 1966 (Vivaldi)

“This really is superlative playing, the tone full and assured, the intonation in the villainous three-and four-part passages a miracle … A magnificent performance.” Gramophone, October 1967 (Bach)

“Ruggiero Ricci is an artist of the front rank … He tackles the music with unflinching vitality and superb assurance – even the intimidating fugue of the G minor Sonata seems to hold no terrors for him, and I have rarely heard this extraordinary movement expounded in so clear and convincing a fashion.” Records & Recording (Bach)

“Ruggiero Ricci is a demonic fiddler, and this is a fun record … He performs the sequence of harmonics in the Wieniawski piece in a staggering fashion, and turns himself into virtually a one-man orchestra in Paganini’s God Save the King.” Stereo Review, October 1970 (Bravura)

“His hand has never been surer, his tone never more beautiful than in these enchanting performances, which are aglow with spontaneity, wit, and sheer delight … a classic matching of interpreter and material.” Stereo Review, October 1980 (Sarasate)