Here we have, at long last, Szeryng's 1962 Mercury recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, with Antal Dorati and the LSO. This CD is available only from a marketplace seller (who is associated with the Dorati Society) on Amazon.co.uk, or from the Dorati Society website: http://www.dorati-society.org.uk.
Szeryng has recorded the Tchaikovsky 3 times (for major studios - there may be other live-broadcast recordings in circulation). The first was in 1959 with Munch in Boston, and later in 1976 with Haitink and the Concertgebouw. Predictably, the earliest one with Munch is the most exciting and is very well recorded. It was only just released on CD in 2011, saddled within a 7-disc, SONY budget box entitled "Charles Munch: Late Romantic Masterpieces". The 1976 recording with Haitink is the slowest and least spontaneous sounding of the 3. Haitink has to take most of the blame for this being the case. It is available in a 1993 Philips DUO 2-fer called "The Best of Tchaikovsky". (Even Philips apparently didn't feel it merited a lavish CD release).
This middle child, with Dorati, however, is rather special. Szeryng's playing here sings even more sweetly than ever - even for him. Those who know his gorgeous 1958 recording of the Brahms concerto for RCA (with Monteux) will most certainly cherish that second movement, where Szeryng's gorgeously singing tone is most rapturously displayed. It is gloriously present in this Tchaikovsky as well, especially in the second movement, where his con-sordini tone is positively ravishing. Fortunately, the Mercury recording, while not state-of-the-art as remastered here, presents his tone in full, resplendent color.
The first movement is spontaneously flowing, and Dorati provides superb support, following Szeryng's every nuance. As is typical of Szeryng, he does not ever find the need to slam on the brakes and emote all over the place, as do so many soloists, to make a musical point. He understands, like few others, that Tchaikovsky knew what he was doing when he wrote this music, and its tempo indications, and when you don't mess with it, the result is a natural outpouring of the musical line. I've already mentioned the gorgeous slow movement - can any violinist play with a more accomplished legato than Szeryng? And the finale, also typical of Szeryng, is not flashy, nor overly fast, but technically and musically perfect. He observes the traditional cuts, as he does in all 3 of his recordings.
As to the recording quality, there is mostly good news to report. The recording quality is beautiful and warm. The acoustic presents the listener within Watford Town Hall, with barely a hint of tape hiss. Szeryng is not overly spotlit, giving Dorati's orchestra a chance to make an impact. However, in this remastering, some of the dynamic gusto has been smoothed and some high frequencies tamed. This sounds nothing like a classic Mercury recording in dynamic range. It sounds, actually, very much like his very mellow, Philips recording in the Concertgebouw.
There is no need to mention the Brahms Concerto, also included on this CD, as it is the same exact recording already available on a genuine Mercury CD release (coupled with the Khachaturian).
Buyers should be aware that this "Dorati Society Edition" production is a bare-bones CD-R. Shame on Amazon (and this seller) for making no mention of this fact in their listing. Further, the insert is a folded, 1-page affair, printed on a desk-top computer printer, and cut out along the dotted lines (which are still visible). It contains no liner notes whatever - the only recording/performance information is what you see on the picture on the Amazon listing. The inside of the fold-out merely lists other items available in this series. It comes in a cheap, plastic slim-case with no back insert.