With such small-scale pieces (most of the discs are for solo violin, solo piano or violin and piano accompaniment) the ‘lack’ of stereo is of little importance, while the vitality of the mono recordings and the virtuosity of the live playing is a revelation. You’ll rarely hear your system sound so musically direct and communicative, or have such an intimate sense of the player and their playing. If hi-fi is about bringing music into the home, this is about as good as source material gets.
Armstrong’s next project was a range of three subscription only box sets under the L’Archet d’Or banner. Limited editions of 250 each, these featured even more eclectic and obscure material and even more sumptuous presentation, with cloth covered slipcases and dramatic original, hand screened artwork on the individual LP sleeves. Again, they were snapped up by the cognoscenti and are all but sold out, although there will be a final set of L’Archet d’Or.
Which brings us up to date, and the latest releases from Coup d’Archet; a pair of Martzy box sets that mark a significant evolution in the Coup d’Archet product line – and help to explain this protracted history. One box groups together all the previous Coup d’Archet Martzy discs, now long sold out as individual albums, not just making them available once more, but adding a new recording as well. This features a 1962 recital of the Mozart B Flat Sonata for Piano and violin, performed for Rundfunks Berlin Brandenburg with
long term accompanist, Jean Antonietti. (Although she obviously enjoyed playing with Antonietti and the pair were recorded many times, she later found Istvan Hajdu infinitely more exciting and satisfying) It’s a sparkling performance that perfectly showcases Martzy’s feel for the music and her close relationship with Antonietti. The instrumental balance is perfect, while Martzy’s poise and precision, her technique and the sheer power she produces never impose on the lightness of Mozart’s music.
It’s another musical tour de force, a welcome addition to the Martzy canon and a further reminder of what the world missed when she fled from EMI. With recordings drawn from so many sources, their quality varies, but it’s never less than good, is generally outstanding and the majesty of Martzy’s playing more than compensates.