Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988), one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists.
“When hearing Szeryng in live performances, one is always struck by the nobility and aristocracy of his concept,” wrote Boris Schwarz in his book, Great Masters of the Violin. In the recordings below, we hear effortlessly shaped phrases and a sense of singing through every note.
Born in Poland, Szeryng studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin and was later influenced by the French School, exemplified by Jacques Thibaud. During the Second World War, he served as liaison officer to the exiled Polish Premier. Szeryng later became a citizen of Mexico, teaching at the National University in Mexico City and serving as the country’s Culture and Good Will Ambassador.
J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
Szeryng made two recordings of Bach’s six solo Sonatas and Partitas. The first was in 1952. Here is the second recording of the complete cycle, from 1967:
Mozart: Violin Concertos
with Alexander Gibson and the New Philharmonia Orchestra:
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 10 in G Major
A 1979 recording with pianist Ingrid Haebler:
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
with Antal Dorati and the London Symphony Orchestra:
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major
A 1960 recording with pianist Arthur Rubinstein:
Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 3
Szeryng rediscovered this forgotten work in the late 1960s, piecing it together from manuscripts which were in the possession of Paganini’s great-granddaughters. He described the music in operatic terms:
One thing makes the Third Concerto different from the others—it may not be the deepest music of its time, but the virtuosity and operatic character are unique. You visualize the soprano, and the tenor responding, and the entrance of the bass—it’s all there.
Franck: Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano
A 1973 recording with pianist Mindru Katz:
A live concert clip with pianist, Tasso Janopoulo, recorded in Paris in November, 1963:
- J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Henryk Szeryng Amazon
- Mozart: Violin Concertos, Henryk Szeryng, Alexander Gibson, New Philharmonia Orchestra Amazon
- Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Henryk Szeryng, Ingrid Haebler Amazon
- Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Henryk Szeryng, Antal Dorati, London Symphony Orchestra Amazon
- Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Henryk Szeryng, Arthur Rubinstein Amazon
- Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 3, Henryk Szeryng, Alexander Gibson, London Symphony Orchestra Amazon
- Franck: Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano, Henryk Szeryng, Mindru Katz Amazon
- Ravel: Tzigane, Henryk Szeryng, Eduard van Remoortel, Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo Amazon
4 thoughts on “Henryk Szeryng: Eight Great Recordings”
I would add:
– JS BACH: 6 sonatas for violin and harpsichord, with Helmut Walcha.
Thank you for this great recommendation, Gabriel. Listen at this link.
I would add the Brahms concerto with Antal Dorati from 1962.
His recording of Handel’s Sonata No.1 in A Major op 1-3 is absolutely wonderful. In my opinion, his recording of that piece has the most passion and soul of all the others I’ve heard/studied.