The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Gioconda De Vito (violin) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Beecham*, German Opera House Orchestra/Paul van Kempen† 
Composer: Mozart, Brahms

Gioconda De Vito, one of the finest violinists to emerge from Italy in the 20th century (a span her life almost exactly matched), made two recordings of Brahms’s Violin Concerto, a work with which she was particularly associated. This is the earlier of the two, dating from 1941. It is a performance of sensational technical prowess, expansive musical intelligence and delightful personality, luxuriously sweet-toned yet always clear, and with a constant suppleness and ease of phrasing that is both persuasive and in places almost conversational. The warmth of her playing is aided by a generous vibrato and a judicious smattering of portamento. Her melodic playing is wonderfully concentrated in tone, pliant and intense. This is a performance of great colour and power. Unfortunately, despite the close recording of De Vito herself, the recorded sound is rather foggy, with an extra helping of ‘frying eggs’ in the slow movement.

Mozart’s G major Concerto, recorded eight years later at Abbey Road Studios in London, is clearer. This is an engaging performance, clean and bright, with some springing rhythmic playing in the first movement, and passagework that is almost playful. The concentrated, pliant lines of the slow movement are wonderful.