THE BUSCH SERKIN DUO Unpublished Recordings
J S BACH Sonata No.5 in f minor for Violin & Keyboard BWV1018
Live recording 2nd March 1939, Library of Congress, Washington
BRAHMS Sonata No.1 in G major for Violin & Piano Op.78
Live BBC Studio Recital 13th October 1936, Broadcasting House, London
BRAHMS Trio in E flat for Piano, Violin & Horn Op.40 (with AUBREY BRAIN horn)
Recorded 16th May and 13th November 1933, Studio 3 Abbey Road. Previously unpublished except side 5 (of 8 originals)
To find three unpublished performances of high quality by the greatest violin and piano duo of the 20th century is luxury indeed. To be able to present seven previously unknown 78rpm sides featuring the legendary horn player Aubrey Brain is a bonus.
Pre-war live recordings are rare and all the more valuable because commercially recorded works were always limited by the four minute side length of a 78rpm disc meaning it was impossible for artists to record in long takes. In the two duos presented here we can hear the artists in full flight, unconstrained by the recording studio. We are also lucky in that the Bach Sonata was never otherwise recorded and is a valuable addition to their discography.
The Brahms Horn Trio is an unissued commercial recording with an unusual history. The complete work was recorded in May 1933 and approved for issue but at the factory mastering stage the master of side 5 was ‘cracked in process’ and could not be used. Unfortunately there had been only one take of that side so release of the recording was abandoned. The work was completely re-recorded in November of the same year and was commercially issued, but by that time Serkin was playing a Steinway instead of a Bechstein and Brain, who had accidentaly destroyed his Labbaye French Horn of 1865 vintage (the same year as the Brahms was written) by reversing his car over it, was playing a completely different instrument. Luckily Busch had a set of test pressings of all but the damaged 5th side and so we are able to present that original recording here for the first time. The missing side has been replaced by the later, commercially issued, recording which also gives us the chance to compare the tonal quality of the two versions.