The magic piano of Hephzibah Menuhin



Before entering into the marvelous art of Hephzibah Menuhin (1921-1981), a little warning is in order. The anthology of concerts and studio recordings contained in this box set cannot claim a homogeneous technical quality and, sometimes, will destabilize the ear, such as the 1er Concerto de Brahms picked up by Australian radio in 1951, whose cottony atmosphere and weeping (sound distortion) are puzzling. But fortunately, this impression vanishes when listening to many tracks magnified by the luminous touch of the artist.

What a personality this Hephziba (“Désirée” in Hebrew) Menuhin, the youngest of the brilliant violinist Yehudi, with whom she formed a dream duo, as their two sensibilities complemented each other! The little girl who can’t find her feet at school; the gifted young artist; the wife – aged 17 – exiled to Australia where she opened up to social and humanitarian engagement; the international concert performer and the woman of letters, killed at the age of 60 by cancer… Hephziba Menuhin lived a thousand lives and dialogued with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann.

“Everywhere, this same feeling of ease, spontaneity, fluidity and intelligence”, writes Bruno Monsaingeon, musician and essayist, who gathered and selected the archives of this beautiful tribute to a musician “Capable of surges of telluric power, as well as of infinite delicacies”. This refinement exults, among others, in the 12e Concerto by Mozart: the pianist and the chamber orchestra of Moscow, under the direction of Rudolf Barshai, compete in spirit and charm, looking towards the azure sky, where a few melancholy clouds venture. The very definition of grace!

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