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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Henryk Szeryng Mozart Violin Concertos #3 & #5

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I take particular satisfaction, in these Vinyl's Revenge posts, to share recordings from my old vinyl collection that allowed me to first discover portions of the repertoire.

I first heard Mozart's violin concerto no. 3 in concert - at the old Mointreal Symphony Summer series at Notre-Dame Basilica. The soloist that day was then-concertmaster Richard Roberts, who studied one summer under the Polish-born, adopted Mexican violinist Henryk Szeryng. In my quest to find some examples of the Mozart concertos, I stumbled into this vinyl re-issue from the 1970's featuring Szeryng and the "New" Philharmonia orchestra. This was part of a larger Mozart cycle, which Philips re-issued a few times since.

Henryk started piano and harmony lessons with his mother when he was 5, and at age 7 turned to the violin, receiving instruction from Maurice Frenkel. After studies with Carl Flesch in Berlin (1929–32), he went to Paris to continue his studies with Jacques Thibaud at the Conservatory, graduating with a premier prix in 1937. From 1933 to 1939 he studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger.

When World War II broke out, General Wladyslaw Sikorski - the Premier of the Polish government in exile - asked Szeryng, who was fluent in seven languages, to serve as his liaison officer and interpreter. In 1941 he accompanied the prime minister to Latin America to find a home for some 4,000 Polish refugees; the refugees were taken in by Mexico, and Szeryng, in gratitude, settled there himself, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1946. Throughout World War II, he appeared in some 300 concerts for the Allies. After the war, he pursued a brilliant international career; was also active as a teacher. In 1970 he was made Mexico's special adviser to UNESCO in Paris.

Szeryng's noble tone, flawless technique, and eloquent expressivity are wonderfully well-suited to Mozart's youthful concertos, and his lyrical yet playful interpretations touch the elegant impetuosity at the heart of the music. Philips late-'60s stereo sound is absolutely translucent and immediate.


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major, K.216
Violin Concerto No.5 in A Major, K.219 ('Turkish')

Henryk Szeryng, violin
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Alexander Gibson, conducting
Philips 6570024 Festivo Series (AAA)

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