In 1953, Eugene Istomin assumed the artistic direction of the Prades Festival together with Casals. He had to hire new violinists in the absence of those who had participated in the first three festivals (Stern, Szigeti and Schneider). He chose Arthur Grumiaux, the heir to Ysaÿe and the great Franco-Belgian school, and Joseph Fuchs with whom he had recently given some concerts (notably playing the Franck Sonata).
Joseph Fuchs came with his sister Lillian, a renowned violist, and they played Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K. 364 under Casals. Joseph Fuchs also joined Istomin and Casals to perform and record two Beethoven Trios (Op. 1 No. 1 and Op. 70 No. 1), thus completing the series Columbia had begun with Schneider on the violin in 1951. Casals was satisfied enough to invite Fuchs to the next festival, where he shared the violin parts of the complete chamber music by Beethoven with Szymon Goldberg. The four sonatas he performed with Istomin were remarkable for their stunning energy and virtuosity in the fast movements.
Apart from the unforgettable musical moments of these festivals, Joseph Fuchs cherished two special memories in particular. He was amazed to discover Arthur Grumiaux’s virtuosity at the piano and immediately responded by picking up his violin and playing a Beethoven sonata with him. The orchestra musicians who attended were rendered speechless! And Fuchs was flabbergasted by Istomin’s familiarity with Casals, going so far as to comment to him after a very successful rehearsal: “Well done! It’s almost as good as Piatigorsky!”
Studio and live recordings in Prades
1953: Beethoven. Trios Op. 1 No. 1 & Op. 70 No. 1. With Pablo Casals, cello. July 5, 8 & 9. LP Columbia. CD Sony.
Both trios have also been recorded live by the French National Radio (Op. 1 No. 1 on July 3, and Op. 70 No. 1 on July 7).
1954: Beethoven. Violin Sonatas Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 8. Trios Op. 1 No. 2 and Op. 97 “Archduke”. June 7 and 22, 1954. Recorded live by the French National Radio.
Beethoven, Sonata No. 8 for Piano and Violin in G major, Op. 30 No. 3. Eugene Istomin, piano. Joseph Fuchs, violin. Live recording in Prades on June 22, 1954.