Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 (Adolf Busch)

Adolf Busch
This recording represents my first-ever exposure to the music-making of the great German violinist and quartet leader, Adolf Busch (1891-1952). I was thirteen when I obtained my first copy of this set at Clark Music in Decatur, Ga. (It wasn't part of the inventory when I discovered the store three years before, but as I gradually depleted the supply of classical 78 sets kept in the back of the store, Mrs. Clark would replace them with other goodies she had been keeping in her "warehouse," and this was one of those items.) I had heard of Busch and his Busch Chamber Players from old Columbia ads for their famous set of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, but this was my first opportunity to actually hear them (it happened to be my introduction to this wonderful concerto as well), and I was hooked:

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219
Tartini: Adagio ("Air") from Violin Sonata in G, Op. 2, No. 12
Adolf Busch (violin) with the Busch Chamber Players
Recorded April 30, 1945 (Mozart) and May 3, 1945 (Tartini)
Columbia Masterworks set MM-609, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 77.62 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 55.76 MB)

Tully Potter, who has written the definitive work on Adolf Busch (published in 2010 by Toccata Press), tells us that this recording followed the Busch Chamber Players' first American tour in the spring of 1945, which took them to 54 towns in 20 states (and Ontario). Many of the towns were out West, and many had never heard a live orchestra before. The orchestra numbered 27 players (including the 19-year-old Eugene Istomin as pianist in several concertos and for continuo work), of which 14 were women, including both horn players. The touring repertoire included this Mozart concerto as well as the following works which the orchestra subsequently recorded: the Bach Double Concerto (which Busch played with Frances Magnes as second fiddle), the Bach D minor clavier concerto (with Istomin), Dvořák's Notturno for strings, Busch's own arrangements of several African-American spirituals, Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" and the 3rd Concert by Rameau. The last two works were, alas, never issued.


  1. Thanks very much! Didn't know anything about Busch; really interesting.

  2. Many thanks for this. I already know & love the performance via a rather poor transfer. Great to have this in much better sound, as well as all the accompanying information. Much appreciated!

  3. More Busch is always appreciated. Thanks.

  4. All three movements seem to start a little late, as if the first moments have been cut off. Also there are glitches in the first mvt at 3.29, 5.49 and 6.26 (though if the first problem is from my downloading, these moments might be later in your file.)

    Is this a problem just with me, or are these present in your transfers too? (I'm listening to the flacs)

    An excellent performance of one of my favourite Mozart works. Many thanks.

    1. I checked them again (even downloading them fresh to make sure there was no problem with filefactory) and found none of the problems you mention.

      Could it be the player you are using for FLAC? I use MediaMonkey both for playing FLACs and converting to FLAC and it's always worked well for me.

  5. Bryan, I apologise. I downloaded it again and have no problems. I think it was a problem with the network.

    I'm in China, where blogspot is blocked, so I was using a VPN. I think that must interfere in some way with the downloads. This time I signed into the VPN to get the download link and then signed out before starting the download. I really ought to have thought of this before I troubled you, but it's new to me - previously I've downloaded files which worked perfectly, and files which wouldn't work at all, but this is the first time I had a zip which opened correctly, only to provide faulty contents.

    Feel free to delete my earlier comment if you like - I don't want to give the impression there's a problem where there isn't.

    Thank you again for the Busch concerto - a lot of violinists don't get the suddenness and violence of the reversion from Adagio to Allegro in the first movement right. Another good one is Thibaud/Munch in 1941 which I have on a Biddulph cd.