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

The most complete tribute ever issued to the fiendish fingers and sublime artistry of a true virtuoso, Ruggiero Ricci: a feast of concerto, solo and recital repertoire recorded by Ricci, collected together for the first time, and including a previously unpublished set of the Brahms Violin Sonatas.

Born Roger Rich to an Italian immigrant father on a Californian army base in 1918, he became Ruggiero Ricci when he was introduced to the New York musical public as a child prodigy violinist. By the time of his debut on Decca – the Tchaikovsky Concerto conducted by Sargent in 1950 – he was an experienced performer and recording artist who had already stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic with the solo-violin repertoire he would make his own: not only Bach but also Ysaÿe, Wieniawski and most of all Paganini, whose Caprices he was the first to record complete later in 1950. At the close of the Tchaikovsky sessions, the musicians of the New Symphony Orchestra burst into spontaneous applause.

A new and typically illuminating essay by Tully Potter on Ricci’s life and recorded legacy draws on previously unpublished correspondence and sheds light on the background to many of these recordings.

Notable records of Ricci’s famous cantabile in concerto repertoire include a hugely influential Paganini album with Anthony Collins and a gripping account of the Sibelius with Øivin Fjeldstad. There are two recordings of the Mendelssohn (1957 and 1974), the first with another ‘prodigy’, the conductor Piero Gamba, and the second recorded in Decca’s Phase 4 stereo with Jean Fournet. He strikes sparks in partnership with Ernest Ansermet for Ravel’s Tzigane and the solos in Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suites. These (Suites Nos. 3 and 4) as well as sections featuring the solo violin, from the Fistoulari ‘Phase 4’ recording of Swan Lake, are included in this collection.

Decca partnered Ricci with several notable pianists for recital repertoire, starting with his former teacher Louis Persinger and including Friedrich Gulda. Many of these chamber recordings (a Sarasate album, sonatas by Weber, Richard Strauss and Prokofiev) were made not in the Decca studios but in Ricci’s home in New Jersey. While he recorded the Second and Third Brahms Sonatas with Julius Katchen in London in 1957, he also taped the cycle of three sonatas at home with Katchen three years earlier. These 1954 performances are issued here for the first time: essential listening for all fans of great violin playing.

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)