Alfredo Campoli & Peter Katin play Mozart, Beethoven & Brahms

Alfredo Campoli, violin

Peter Katin, piano

The Fairfield Halls, Croydon

Campoli’s home, Southgate

Recordings: 24th September 1963 & c. 1973
 A special Chamber Music addition to our catalogue

MusicWeb International

“…this release consists of entirely discography-filling material … The recorded sound is excellent … A warm welcome […] to this disc, which offers considerable rarity value to the violin aficionado.”
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International, August 2009

Audiophile Audition

“The live recordings […] show some of the ‘bel canto’ playing for which Campoli was so well known … The recording is very good indeed though the violin is quite closely miked, giving an intimate feel to the playing.” [Rating ★★★★]
Peter Joelson, Audiophile Audition, 28th September 2009


“…I’ve never heard [Campoli’s] fabled tone (nor perhaps anyone else’s) in such vivid fidelity; a similar lushness characterizes the piano’s tone as well … even if the performance didn’t flow so smoothly as it does, the recorded sound would magnify all the reading’s virtues in ratio in which many recordings diminish them.”

“At moments, Campoli’s sound could freeze a windsock in a hurricane … these live performances sound communicative as well as brilliant … This issue deserves to be a part of most collections … Very strongly recommended.”
Robert Maxham, Fanfare 33:4, March/April 2010

American Record Guide

“The beauty of this recording is in the stellar playing, the sincerity of the musicianship, the straightforward sophistication of the interpretations, and the intimacy and high quality of the recorded performances.”
Elaine Fine, American Record Guide , July/August 2010

International Record Review

“…as well as Campoli’s lovely and very individual sound, the intelligence and responsiveness of his playing is captivating, matched by the combination of energy and subtlety in Katin’s Mozart playing – a particular joy here.”

“…it is a great musical treat to hear these two musicians in this work [Brahms], especially their very expansive reading of the slow movement and the discipline and vigour of the finale.”
Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, June 2012

Musical Pointers

“These are compelling duo recordings … The three popular sonatas come out of the loudspeakers with stunning presence and immediacy. Recommended, and do explore this special small label.”
Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers, June 2012

The Strad

“…in an outstanding programme, the great duo of Alfredo Campoli and Peter Katin play [the Mozart and Beethoven] with exquisite taste, refinement and velvety tone…”

“The [‘unforgettable’ Brahms performance] captures the magical intimacy of two great musicians making music together at home, and the results are spellbinding. Strongly recommended.”
The Strad, July 2012

BBC Music Magazine

“Remarkably clear recordings enable us to savour the warmth and passion of Campoli’s playing. Katin, too, is admirable, maintaining rock-solid ensemble.”
BBC Music Magazine, December 2012

Track listingTime
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Violin Sonata in A major, K52622' 24"
1  I Molto allegro9' 26"
2 II Andante6' 34"
3III Presto*6' 24"
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata in C minor, op 30 no 224' 47"
4  I Allegro con brio7' 23"
5 II Adagio cantabile9' 05"
6III Scherzo: Allegro3' 22"
7 IV Finale: Allegro4' 57"
The Fairfield Halls, Croydon, 24th September 1963
Johannes Brahms: Violin Sonata no 3 in D minor, op 10822' 15"
8  I Allegro7' 33"
9 II Adagio5' 29"
10III Scherzo: Un poco presto e con sentimento2' 46"
11 IV Finale: Presto agitato6' 27"
Campoli’s home, Southgate, c. 1973
Total time:69' 27"

*Sample extract (control with the Sound Sample tab at the top of the page)

†This track may be heard on the Sampler CD

Remembering Alfredo Campoli

Having been born with such a natural talent, Alfredo Campoli (born in Rome, 1906; died in Berkshire, 1991) might reasonably have been expected to build his life around that talent. He did not; he enjoyed many activities and simply played when asked.

It was an unusual talent in the sense that he might be compared with Maria Callas or Luciano Pavarotti, not only because his tone was absolutely unique but also because he based his approach to performance on ‘bel canto’. Just a few notes, and his wonderful sound is instantly recognisable. Unfortunately, the recordings of his performances that remain, although providing some insight into his tone and style, do not do full justice to the enormous sound he drew from his instrument.

Alfredo’s first teacher was his father, leader of the orchestra at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma. His mother was a dramatic soprano who had toured with Scotti and Caruso. The family moved to London in 1911, and five years later Alfredo was already giving public concerts. By the age of thirteen he had won so many prizes that he was asked not to compete in future competitions. In 1919, after winning the London Music Festival gold medal, he went on to tour with such singers as Nellie Melba and Clara Butt.

During the Depression there was little demand for a soloist, and Alfredo formed his Salon Orchestra and the Welbeck Light Quartet, playing in restaurants in London and other such venues. He first appeared at a Prom in 1938 and, during the Second World War, gave numerous concerts for the Allied troops. After the War, he had extended tours of Europe, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia, and eventually clocked up over 1,000 BBC broadcasts. The current masters of that illustrious body have since forgotten his great contribution to the broadcasts of that time, and show no interest whatever in permitting listeners to hear his glorious sound. Alfredo Campoli owned the Dragonetti Stradivarius, but it was his 1843 Rocca that he used predominantly, the Dragonetti being housed in the bank for security.

Alfredo made his American début in 1953, playing Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with the New York Philharmonic under George Szell, and in 1955 gave the first performance of the Violin Concerto by Sir Arthur Bliss, which was written for him. In 1956 he twice toured the Soviet Union.

He considered the phrasing of each passage he played, and if he could achieve ‘bel canto’ by shortening or lengthening a note then he would do so. He was not afraid to lift the bow from the strings: an act that seems to be completely avoided by today’s exponents of the instrument. Brief breaks of sound can add tremendous drama and power to a performance, even when not indicated by the composer.

In 1961 I made a private recording of Alfredo Campoli playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Hayes Orchestra in Bromley, Kent. The cadenza from the first movement is just a miracle. My wife and I subsequently visited Alfredo at his home in Southgate on many occasions, and I had the great pleasure and privilege of recording him in rehearsal with Peter Katin, Daphne Ibbott and Valerie Tryon. I also promoted his last Queen Elizabeth Hall recital, which I also recorded and hope to publish at a later date.

In 1963 I recorded a lunchtime recital in the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, given by Alfredo with Peter Katin. Two sonatas from that recording are published on this CD, together with a Brahms sonata, recorded by the same duo in Alfredo’s Southgate home.

The recording in Alfredo’s home was made in his music room, a rectangular room approximately eight metres by four; in Vienna, in the days of Brahms, composers were more likely to hear their works performed in private homes, palaces and castles rather than in concert halls, and the sound in such rooms is quite different from that in a purpose-built concert hall. It is an intimate sound, and this recording provides an historic document of the great maestro performing in his own home. Lovers of the violin who did not hear Alfredo Campoli playing in a live situation missed the opportunity to hear probably the greatest English violinist. I have decided to devote as much time as possible to issuing the substantial collection of private recordings I made of him during our years of friendship, with the blessing of his then-surviving widow, Joy Campoli.

—Geoffrey Terry