Dipping-in to this alluring collection celebrating the recently late Ida Haendel’s artistry is to find a previously unpublished recording of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, from 1997 with the London Philharmonic and Roger Norrington, something known about for years and only now finally released. My finger was trembling on the ‘play’ button – would there be an audible reason for not issuing Haendel’s Lark at the time other than for a lack of other music to couple with it (Sir Roger’s VW Symphony cycle for Decca having come to an abrupt unfulfilled end)? Nothing that I can hear, for this is a wonderfully expressive and rapturous account, wistful, glowingly partnered by the LPO, different to if in the same league as the benchmark Hugh Bean/Adrian Boult rendition.

Also included on this final disc (of six) are Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins (RV580, recorded 1982, previously on DG) in which Haendel is violin III, joining Isaac Stern, Ivry Gitlis (another recent loss) & Shlomo Mintz. Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic accompany, as they do for an impassioned live (Huberman Festival) account of Haendel’s trademark Sibelius Concerto (also 1982, licensed from Helicon).

Apart from a 1996 violin-and piano studio recital with Vladimir Ashkenazy of Enescu, Szymanowski and Bartók, the bulk of the recordings here are from between 1940 and 1947 – short pieces, showpieces, Stravinsky’s Fairy’s Kiss (trans. Dushkin), Sonatas (Beethoven Opus 30/3, Schubert D408) and Concertos, all sounding splendid in these expert transfers. Pianists include Adela Kotowska, Ivor Newton, Noël Mewton-Wood and Ida’s sister Alice. Some fabulous playing informs the numerous with-piano 78rpm sides (try the scintillating Bazzini, CD4/track 1). Haendel’s playing can be smokily intense, full of gypsy passions, voluptuous, and intimately heart-touching. Concertos by Mendelssohn (the E-minor), Dvořák and Tchaikovsky are respectively conducted by Malcolm Sargent, Karl Rankl and Basil Cameron – each of these versions makes for magnetic listening.

This treasure-trove of wonderful performances of delectable repertoire, as inspiring for today as back then, for which presentation, including copious photographs, is excellent, resides on Eloquence 484 1688 (6 CDs).

Further details here…