Brunswick records

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After making a few short Berliner records in 1900, Huberman waited until the early 1920s before signing a new recording contract with the American Brunswick Record Company. These acoustic recordings do have their limitations, but they can also be remarkably vivid sounding; they were "direct to disc" recordings - the sound of the instrument directly moved the wax cutter.

Electrical recording in the late 1920s revolutionised the industry, and Huberman's Columbia recordings do have much better sound than these Brunswicks. However, some of these pieces were never re-recorded for Columbia.

 

Mazurka in D by Wieniawski [rec. 1922 486k]

Huberman's teacher Gregorowicz learnt from Wieniawski, though I think that Huberman would have played this kind of repertoire well no matter who he was taught by.

This record is a German Polydor pressing.

Polonaise by Vieuxtemps [rec. 1922 689k]

A wonderful performance. Virtuosic left hand passage work (which even Carl Flesch admired) is used to great effect, particularly at the end. The final note of the piece is played in a very relaxed and unforced way, typical of 19th century interpretation.

Melodie in E flat by Tchaikovsky [rec. 1922 660k]

The acoustic recording process suited the voice more than the violin. In a slow and melodic piece such as this one, it can sometimes be a struggle listening through the surface noise.

Mazurka in G by Zarzycki [rec. 1922 491k]

I find this Brunswick recording more free and expressive than the later Columbia recording from 1929.

Kol Nidrei by Bruch [rec. 1922 668k]

If you have only heard boring modern interpretations of this piece, prepare to be entertained.

Capriccio Valse by Wieniawski [rec. 1923 633k]

This is one of my favourite recordings. Most other violinists play this as just a technical show-piece ... here we are aware of a powerful melancholy bitter-sweet quality.

La Campanella by Paganini [rec. 1923 708k]

The fairly high surface noise on this record wasn't reduced, as doing so affected the violin sound quite markedly. Huberman brings out the vocal character as well as the humorous element in the music.

Jota Navarra by Sarasate [rec. 1924 680k]

Powerful attacks and inflexions with a certain coarseness of sound highlight the prominence of rhythm, rather than melody, in this piece.

Top photo: New York, blah.
Newspaper: New York Times, 15 Nov 1896.