Never seeking popular acclaim, Joseph Fuchs was regarded as one of the most perceptive violinists of his time, this first LP recording of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas being his major achievement on disc.
Born in New York in 1899, he passed through the days of an infant prodigy to become the Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. A fall led to the loss of use in his left-hand fingers, and only through an experimental operation, followed a long period of rehabilitation, was he again able to play. Wishing to avoid the constant demands of orchestral life, he concentrated on solo work and teaching, that combination extending his career through to the age of 93. He made few recordings, but in 1952 was asked by American Decca to place the Beethoven Violin Sonatas on disc.
Initially released for the US market, they eventually arrived in Europe on the Brunswick label, and were generally regarded as the new performing benchmark. Maybe his fast vibrato and honeyed tone is a throwback to playing of a previous generation, but the affection he brings to the ‘Spring’ Sonata is typical of his endearing musicianship. His elegant legato playing created long flowing lines to the slow movement, while the final Rondo is full of joy. Always technically immaculate, those same characteristics are carried over into the Sixth and Seventh Sonatas that complete the disc.
His pianist, Artur Balsam, was a Beethoven exponent of distinction, and was more than an equal partner, bringing an inner strength around which Fuchs could weave a web of musical decoration. You do have to adjust your ears to the rather constricted sound, but the transfers from immaculate original pressings are of outstanding quality. • David Denton, David's Review Corner, September 2008