Ruggiero Ricci

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Peter Schenkman
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Ruggiero Ricci

Post by Peter Schenkman » Fri Jun 24, 2005 4:57 pm

The name of Ruggiero Ricci has come up several times during the discussion on Vivaldi’s “Seasons” and I thought, as many know little if anything about this prodigiously gifted violinist I’d attempt a brief overview.

Ruggiero Ricci has had an extraordinary concert career spanning 70 years. His debut in 1928 at the age of 10 in San Francisco playing a formidable program of works by Vieuxtemps, Saint-Saens, Mendelssohn and Wieniawski, astounded the audience and started him on the road to early stardom. His consecration as a world class "wunderkind", one of the 20th century's few authentic prodigies, came in New York when the leading critic of the day wrote: "All that great violinists do, he did."

He made his first tour of Europe in 1932 at the age of 14, a highly sensationalized series of concerts with the world's greatest orchestras; he continued to play extensively until, ironically, the Army Air Force put a stop to his world travels. He enlisted at the beginning of the war and became "Entertainment Specialist Ricci". During those war years he played and broadcast hundreds of concerts under a variety of unusual conditions, often without an accompanist, exploring and presenting the largely unexploited solo violin repertoire. Since then he has remained an enthusiastic exponent of the solo recital, basing a majority of his yearly programs on the unaccompanied works of Bach, Paganini, Wieniawski, Kreisler, Ernst, Bartok etc. His was the first recording of the complete Paganini Caprices without piano accompaniment, and he performed the US premieres of both the 4th and 6th Concertos as well. Not surprisingly, Ricci is recognized as having greatly contributed to the world's renewed appreciation and affection for the great 19th century composers, though he maintains a broad repertoire of over 50 concertos. He has performed the world premieres of several distinguished contemporary composers’ concertos, including Alberto Ginastera, Gottfied von Einem, Alexander Goehr, Joseph White, Gerard Schurmann and Carlos Veerhoff. His discography lists more than 500 recordings, including 65 CD’s. His fourth recording of the Paganini Caprices was made for the first time on Paganini's own Guarneri, exceptionally lent to Ricci by the City of Genoa. At the last count, Ricci has performed over 6000 concerts in 65 countries.

Ricci's first teacher was Louis Persinger, who was also an early teacher of Menuhin. He later studied with Michel Piastro, Paul Stassevitch and Georg Kulenkampf. Past teaching posts include Indiana University, the Juilliard School and the University of Michigan. Schirmers has published his book, “Left Hand Violin Technique”. Ricci teaches at the Mozarteum Akademie in Salzburg, Austria.

As mentioned, over the years Ricci has recorded an amazing amount of repertoire so lets look at a few of his discs. Probably the best place to start is a five disc Vox set (CD5X 3611) costing something like $20.00 which has Concertos by Bruch, Goldmark, Sibelius, Lalo’s Concerto, Symphonie espagnole and the rarely performed Fantaisie norvegienne, The Brahms “Double” Concerto with his brother Giorgio (no slouch either) all of the Ysaye Solo Sonatas, solo works by Bach, Hindemith and a lot of virtuoso show pieces by the likes of Wieniawski, Sarasate, Ernst, Paganini, Tartini, Hubay, etc. There is another five disc collection on Decca’s Original Masters series (475 105-2) which consists of recordings made for that company from 1950-1960. Repertoire consists of the twenty-four Paganini Caprices plus the first two Concertos, the early Strauss Sonata, six sonatas by von Weber, Khachaturian’s Concerto, Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole (a different performance then the one cited earlier), quite a few virtuoso pieces with orchestral accompaniment and several solo sonatas by Hindemith and Prokofiev. Another collection, this one of two discs can be found on the same Decca label (458 191-2) titled “Virtuoso Violin” and the album title aptly describes the contents which are dazzlingly played. One of his accompanists on this set is his first teacher Louis Persinger, not a bad pianist. The Hong Kong label One-Eleven has issued an amazing two disc set which consists of a recital for unaccompanied violin given at New York’s Town Hall on Nov. 21, 1946 and a Carnegie Hall recital of a year later. The playing on the Town Hall recital is almost freaky given the complete ease with which Ricci pulls off almost impossible stunts on his instrument. In the early 1990’s Ricci recorded the Brahms Concerto for the Biddulph label (LAW 002) but with a twist, he played through the concerto with a cadenza by Busoni but as well, the disc included, and added at the end, over a dozen cadenzas by everyone from Joachim to Heifetz with names like Tovey, Kreisler, Busch, Milstein and even one by Mr. Ricci. I don’t have it but I believe that he pulled off the same trick with the Beethoven Concerto for the same label.

For truths in the Beethoven, Schubert or Brahms Sonatas I wouldn’t look to Ricci as a first choice but the man was one of the most gifted and natural players you’re ever likely to hear and in the right repertoire was almost unstoppable. As well, the length of the career, playing at the level at which he played, for a string player is quite phenomenal.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

Allen
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Post by Allen » Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:44 pm

Peter,

Thanks for the recommendations.

I bought the 5-CD Vox Box set that you cited as a result of reccommendations on this board and enjoyed it a lot. I bought the set here:

http://www.cdconnection.com/bin/nph-sea ... art=906120

$15 :)

Lance
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Post by Lance » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:08 pm

Allen wrote:Peter,

Thanks for the recommendations.

I bought the 5-CD Vox Box set that you cited as a result of reccommendations on this board and enjoyed it a lot. I bought the set here:

http://www.cdconnection.com/bin/nph-sea ... art=906120

$15 :)
Nice bio sketch on Ricci, Peter.

As for the Vox set, yes, anybody interested in Ricci will want to get this immediately. I wish Vox would dig into their vaults for some other things. Years ago they recorded many great artists who went on to other labels. CMG founder, Ward Botsford, was once connected with Vox during the George de Mendelssohn-Bartholdy management era. Also, the new Ricci Decca 5-CD set is priceless, especially for their price; in fact you can't put a price on this kind of artistry. It's wonderful to have that much of Ricci's art (in its prime) for the price!
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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Allen
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Post by Allen » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:13 pm

Lance,

Since you mentioned Vox, they used to have a web-site here:

http://www.voxcd.com/

But the link now says the Vox domain has been suspended.

Do you know what happened to Vox? I hope they haven't folded or something!!

oisfetz
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Post by oisfetz » Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:03 am

Peter: about Ricci playing Brahms, dont be so sure. I have a recording of the 2d.and 3th sonatas with Katchen (copied from a vynyl) and it's excelent, like his v.c.with the cadenzas I also have. His Goldmark and Saint.Saens third v.c.are like the best in the market. He has recorded the weirded pieces of the repertorie, like Zito's Cumparsita, Newman´s Tárrega, Menotti and Ginastera's v.c.and many others. I think than very few has the inmense repertorie of Ricci. And his Sarasate's pieces and Paganini's caprices (first version on IDI) are still IMO unsurpassables.

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sat Jun 25, 2005 6:43 am

One of my favorite Ricci discs is his performance of a number of the Chopin Nocturnes - arranged by many different composers for solo violin. Just beautiful.

Peter Schenkman
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Post by Peter Schenkman » Sat Jun 25, 2005 7:12 am

oisfetz wrote:Peter: about Ricci playing Brahms, dont be so sure. I have a recording of the 2d.and 3th sonatas with Katchen (copied from a vynyl) and it's excelent, like his v.c.with the cadenzas I also have. His Goldmark and Saint.Saens third v.c.are like the best in the market. He has recorded the weirded pieces of the repertorie, like Zito's Cumparsita, Newman´s Tárrega, Menotti and Ginastera's v.c.and many others. I think than very few has the inmense repertorie of Ricci. And his Sarasate's pieces and Paganini's caprices (first version on IDI) are still IMO unsurpassables.

I’m a big admirer of Ricci as I think should be apparent from the words I wrote on him but no one player does everything to perfection and Ricci, with all due respect is no exception. I know the Ricci/Katchen recording of the Second and Third Brahms Sonatas quite well having had the Decca LP (LXT 5270) for more years then I care to remember. It’s good for which Katchen, a superb Brahms player should be given a lot of credit but there are just too many recordings of those sonatas that appeal to me more. In the case of the D Minor I would go with any of the following, Heifetz/Kapell, Milstein/Horowitz, Szigeti/Petri, Oistrakh/Richter and Kogan/Mytnik. For the A Major, Busch/Serkin and Oistrakh/Richter are hard to top. For the Goldmark Concerto which Ricci plays very well, I personally prefer either of the Milstein versions, his studio recording with the Harry Blech leading Philharmonia Orchestra (available on the Testament label) or the live performance with Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from Nov. 1, 1942 which has circulated on several different labels. I also have always had a fondness for the recording of the work on the Vox label by Bronislaw Gimpel, one of the most undeservedly under-rated violinists that I know of. For the Saint-Saens B Minor Concerto I’d opt for Milstein or Francescatti. I would agree that Ricci’s Sarasate short pieces are probably the equal of any (once you get around Heifetz) and his Paganini Caprices probably sweep the field in any of his four recorded performances. His repertoire is certainly more then substantial by any standard. I can’t think of another violinist who has played as much and the length of the career quite astounding.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

oisfetz
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Post by oisfetz » Sat Jun 25, 2005 10:07 am

Peter: dont forget Brahms' sonatas by Boris Golstein and Gioconda da Vito. And Goldmark's by Peter Rybar. About Sarasate, the best interpretation of any of his short pieces is IMO the extraordinary "Playera" by Hassid :wink: :wink:

Peter Schenkman
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Post by Peter Schenkman » Sat Jun 25, 2005 8:18 pm

oisfetz wrote:Peter: dont forget Brahms' sonatas by Boris Golstein and Gioconda da Vito. And Goldmark's by Peter Rybar. About Sarasate, the best interpretation of any of his short pieces is IMO the extraordinary "Playera" by Hassid :wink: :wink:
There is very little that I have forgotten over the years including the correct spelling of Boris Goldstein’s last name as well as that of de Vito. I really don’t have time to go through every “do you remember” thread or request that you choose to throw out. Why not assume that I have about 12,000 plus CD’s, God only knows how many LP’s and have been involved in music for well over half a century and let it go at that. De Vito recorded the Brahms Sonatas Nos. 1 and 3 with Fischer and No. 2 with Aprea, all available on CD. The Boris Goldstein recording of the three sonatas is not so easily come by and is not even mentioned by my old friend Jim Creighton in his “Discopaedia of the Violin” second edition circa 1994. Recorded in 1985 with Yulia Goldstein (I would assume that there is a connection) for Melodiya (SUCD 10-00254). There is nothing wrong with either of these recordings and given Fischer’s partnership in Sonatas Nos. 1 and 3 quite a lot of interest, but I’ll stick with my earlier favorites, adding that in the previously unmentioned G Major Sonata the Busch/Serkin pairing is not a bad first choice. The Rybar recording of the Goldmark Concerto with Swoboda leading the Vienna Symphony Orchestra set down originally for the Nixa label (WLP 5010) and released in North America by Westminster (WXN 18545) is not even a starter in the field that I’ve listed (Milstein and Gimpel). As for Hassid, in this repertoire everyone has his or her own favorites; I tend to favor Mr. Heifetz although to stay within the discussion mandate, Ricci will suffice quite nicely

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

oisfetz
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Post by oisfetz » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:34 am

OK Peter. I give up. You are the winner. You have all and know all. You are the supreme expert on string music in the forum. Nobody can name a stringer or a recording you dont know. So, I would not made any more reply on any of your post in the future, to avoid the shame of your crushing answers.

pizza
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Post by pizza » Sun Jun 26, 2005 12:22 pm

Oisfetz:

Don't despair. We're not engaged in contests with one another. You write quite well for a person whose first language isn't English and have much of value to offer. Peter Schenkman is human too. A minor mistake (either spelling or a typo as the case may be, but nonetheless a mistake) escaped his eagle eye in his second post. It can happen to anyone, and often does. :wink:

Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Sun Jun 26, 2005 6:54 pm

I'm with oisfetz. Who needs a "specialist" telling us what we should know?

Oisfetz, as far as I'm concerned, writes posts which are more interesting, less tedious, human (particularly considering, as was stated above, that English is not his first language) and more fun to read than the pejorative stuff from the guy in the professor's cloak.

Keep posting, oisfetz!

Auntie Lynn
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sun Jun 26, 2005 6:58 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong (here's your chance), but isn't Signor Ricci from somewhere down the Peninsula like San Mateo or some place like that?? - along with wunderkind dancer Christine Elliot and our own dear Jon Nakamatsu...local kids does good...

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Post by Lance » Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:56 pm

Auntie Lynn wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong (here's your chance), but isn't Signor Ricci from somewhere down the Peninsula like San Mateo or some place like that?? - along with wunderkind dancer Christine Elliot and our own dear Jon Nakamatsu...local kids does good...
Hi Auntie Lynn!

Roger Rich (really! - he Italianized it to Ruggiero Ricci) was born in San Francisco [according to one bio sketch] on July 24, 1918. The family was originally from Italy, but it was common for musical performers to change their names to sound more European ... it apparently caused more "success." Could be the original Christian name of the family was Ricci. But, one has to admit, there's more of a "ring" to Ruggiero Ricci than Roger Rich!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Febnyc
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Post by Febnyc » Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:49 am

Lance wrote:
Auntie Lynn wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong (here's your chance), but isn't Signor Ricci from somewhere down the Peninsula like San Mateo or some place like that?? - along with wunderkind dancer Christine Elliot and our own dear Jon Nakamatsu...local kids does good...
Hi Auntie Lynn!

Roger Rich (really! - he Italianized it to Ruggiero Ricci) was born in San Francisco [according to one bio sketch] on July 24, 1918. The family was originally from Italy, but it was common for musical performers to change their names to sound more European ... it apparently caused more "success." Could be the original Christian name of the family was Ricci. But, one has to admit, there's more of a "ring" to Ruggiero Ricci than Roger Rich!
Double Hi!!! Auntie Lynn...

Lance, that's interesting - never knew. The blandly named Roger Rich morphs into the continental fiddler Ruggiero Ricci. Perhaps he did simply revert back to his family name which, in turn, had been Anglicized when they emigrated.

There are all sorts of wondrous things to be learned here.

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Mon Jun 27, 2005 7:00 pm

Perhaps someone with finer nuances in Italian than me (just about anyone else :) ) can check this, but according to my dictionary ricci means curly hair, which I believe Ricci had.

John

Allen
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Post by Allen » Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:07 pm

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