Friday, August 4, 2017

Bloch: Violin Sonata No. 1 (Josef Gingold, Beryl Rubinstein)

Ernest Bloch, early 1920s
Ernest Bloch wrote two violin sonatas in the 1920s, when he was serving as the first director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and these have not lacked for performances and recordings from some fairly prominent artists, among them Heifetz, Isaac Stern and Louis Kaufman. The first recording ever made of either of them was for an independent New York label, Gamut, by the husband-and-wife team of Harold and Marion Kahn Berkley, in 1937. This is so rare that I have never encountered it. A year later, Victor recorded the same sonata, and it presumably received somewhat wider distribution, though it is scarcely less common:

Bloch: Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920)
Josef Gingold, violin; Beryl Rubinstein, piano
Recorded c. January 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece set AM-498, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 69.03 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 49.67 MB)

This recording affords us a rare opportunity to hear Josef Gingold (1909-1995) as a soloist; he was much more active as a chamber and orchestral musician, being in Toscanini's NBC Orchestra and in the Primrose Quartet. Beryl Rubinstein (1898-1952), on the Cleveland Institute's faculty while Bloch was there (and subsequently its director), was one of the dedicatees of Bloch's Second Violin Sonata, along with violinist André Ribaupierre; together they premièred the work in 1925. Curiously enough, another Rubinstein, Artur. participated in the première of the First Sonata, with violinist Paul Kochanski.


  1. Alternate links:

    1. What a treat! A terrific performance in excellent sound thanks to your transfer. Oddly enough, I've been searching for a different recording of the Bloch, by Boris Goldstein and Ella Selkina on a rare Melodiya LP. Maybe you'll turn up a copy :-) Seriously, all the best to you.

  2. Many thanks indeed, once again! Best wishes, Nick

  3. How wonderful that you uploaded this. I had just been thinking about listening to it from a reel-to-reel I made from a friend's 78s more than 40 years ago. I once played it for a student of Gingold. She loved it and then she told him about hearing it. He was surprised that someone still had a copy! With all my thanks for your marvelous transfers.
    With best regards from over here,
    David Mendes

  4. Thanks so much, Bryan. I didn't know this existed -- a great find, and an excellent transfer. The performance is really splendid. I don't know whether you see the New Yorker, or have access to it, but there was an extremely sympathetic portrait of Gingold by David Blum in 1991. You can download it here:

    All the best,


  5. Thanks a lot for this. So many excellent chamber musicians, and so few were recorded extensively, so this is a treasure.