Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Albert Sammons plays Grieg

Here is a rare sonata recording by the man considered by many to be the greatest British violinist, Albert Sammons (1886-1957).  It is of Grieg's Sonata in G, Op. 13, recorded on March 12, 1925 with Sammons' longtime sonata partner William Murdoch (1888-1942) at the piano.  This was one of the last acoustical recordings made by Columbia (they had switched to the Western Electric recording process by October 1925) and consequently experienced a very short catalogue life, issued in November 1925 and deleted in Feburary 1928.

Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 2 in G, Op. 13
Albert Sammons, violin; William Murdoch, piano
Recorded March 12, 1925
English Columbia L 1661 through L 1663, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 63.25 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 24.61 MB)

The three Grieg violin sonatas enjoyed a much greater circulation 75-100 years ago than today.  Heifetz recorded Op. 13 in the 1930s, and there's a famous 1928 recording of Op. 45 in C minor by Fritz Kreisler and Sergei Rachmaninoff.  This Sammons recording appears to be the first one made of Op. 13, a charming work.

Only a month after making this recording, and still by the acoustical recording process, Sammons made his first complete recording of a violin concerto, and his only recording of a non-British concerto at that.  This was Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, with an unidentified orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty.  Early in 2008 I did a transfer of this recording, which is still available for download:

Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Albert Sammons, violin, with orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty
Recorded April 9, 1925
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 30, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 65.85 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 24.17 MB)

Albert Sammons, for all his many achievements as a soloist, was also a great quartet leader.  He was one of the founding members of the London String Quartet in 1908 and played first violin in it for nine years, until being called up for military service in 1917.  The Fall 2010 issue of Classic Recordings Quarterly features a fine article by Tully Potter about the LSQ and its recordings.  Late in 2007 I did transfers of a group of LSQ recordings from 1915-17 (when Sammons was still in it), featuring music by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, which are still available for download:

Mozart: Quartet No. 16 in E-Flat, K. 428
Schubert: Quartet No. 12 in C minor, D. 703 ("Quartettsatz")
Schumann: Quartet No. 3 in A, Op. 41, No. 3
Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 1 in D, Op. 11: Scherzo
London String Quartet (led by Albert Sammons)
Recorded 1915-17
English Columbia L 1015, 1043, 1044, 1199, 1200, 5 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 105.6 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 38.35 MB)


  1. Thanks a lot for these treasures! Sammons and Murdoch were great musicians and also the London SQ recordings are beautiful!

  2. Sammons is a fine player and the Grieg w/Murdoch, also excellent, proves it. Bruch with Harty, one of my favorite conductors, is a pleasure.

    I love the London String Quartet recordings. Their recordings have quickly become favorites, certainly the equal of Flonzaley, Capet, Klingler, etc. Thanks for these fine posts.

    I would consider it an honor if you would allow me to post some of your transfers to my YouTube channel, 2ndviolinist, giving you full credit and a link to your blog. Please check out my channel. I have gotten permission from Bill Anderson, Damian Rogan, Neal (don't know his last name) and "Satyr" to use their posts on my channel. I was a violinist until an accident left me a quadriplegic. I enjoy collecting mostly pre-1950 classical recordings, 1930s jazz, and an eclectic mix of other music. I have 100s (1000s?) of hours of music collected from many sources and enjoy sharing what I've found that's hard to find elsewhere.

    Your blog has enriched my collection and musical enjoyment. People like you are saving valuable, overlooked recordings that at least a few of us really appreciate.

    Let me know here or send me a message on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/2ndviolinist?feature=mhsn


  3. Do you have any more London SQ in your collection? If so, please post. Thanks either way.

  4. Doug - only the Haydn "Emperor" Quartet from 1924, which is to be one of my "reissues" - stay tuned.

  5. The Orchestra that plays Bruch's concerto was the Hallé Orchestra whose principal conductor was Sir Hamilton Hardy from 1920-33.

  6. I'm contacting you, because I hope you'll be able to assist me.

    For many years, I've wanted to remaster a complete edition of the recordings of the British violinist Albert Sammons (including his recordings as a member of the London String Quartet) for CD. I have collected almost all of his issued recordings, and am in touch with a few collectors who have some of the published and unpublished discs that I lack. I'd like to email you a list of what I'm looking for.

    Please contact me and let me know if that would be okay with you.



    Jon Samuels