Picks and Pans Review: Beethoven: the Sonatas for Piano and Violin
Born in the same Warsaw suburb as Chopin, Szeryng served as an interpreter for General Sikorski, Poland's exiled pre-World War II prime minister, and then settled in Mexico in 1945. He would probably be known only for his wartime service if he had not heard Arthur Rubinstein perform in Mexico City in 1954. Overwhelmed, Szeryng rushed backstage and spoke his praise in Polish, the pianist's native tongue. Rubinstein invited him to his hotel and, upon hearing him play Bach, began phoning around the world to arrange concerts. Today, at 62, Szeryng retains the grace and delicacy that Rubinstein said "reduced me to tears." His partner, Ingrid Haebler, is best known in Europe as a master of Mozart. She brings a characteristic fluidity and tonal luster to these works, which reflect Beethoven's early absorption of Mozart. This imported five-record set is a major investment (about $50), but the elegance of the performances makes it appreciate in value with each listening.