Among the legendary figures of the violin, Arthur Grumiaux occupies a special place in the shadows of dazzling stars such as Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, his contemporaries. Indeed, the importance he gives to teaching (in 1949 he succeeds his former teacher at the academy of music in Brussels) and his taste for chamber music, to which he dedicates a part of his career, keep him out of the limelight. But in these shadows embers are aglow.
Born in Belgium in 1921 the most famous representative of the Belgian school of violin since Eugène Ysaye and Henri Vieuxtemps also studied in Paris with George Enesco. A child prodigy and an acknowledged virtuoso, he forms a legendary duo with the pianist Clara Haskil whom he meets in 1950 at the Prades Festival and with whom he recorded the complete sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven. He was also an accomplished pianist.
Although he didn't like being in the limelight or gruelling world tours, he was present that night in 1961 at the Nice Festival. Under the direction of Manuel Rosenthal conducting the Orchestra of the RTF, he performs a Mendelssohn Second Violin Concerto of a sonic purity that is full of elegance.
As an encore, Paganini's Caprice No.14 in E-flat Major springs forth from under his fingers like a torrent of crystal. We then hear him in the Saraband and in the Chaconne of Bach's Second Partita, where Grumiaux the "man" withdraws completely to let only the composer Johann Sebastian Bach emerge. Lastly, we hear him play Nigun by Ernest Bloch, a marvellous short piece through which his contained lyricism is revealed.
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Hollywood Symphony orchestra, Antal Dorati - "Concert Magic"