I owned this pairing on vinyl long ago and was surprised and delighted to see it reissued by CBS/Sony in their "Great Performances" series. And they are great! The name Francescatti didn't have the cachet of Heifetz or the young Perlman, but the man could play. His recording of the Mozart Third and Fourth Concertos is my favorite, even though I know that stylistically something less romantic is probably called for, and here he plays down the romanticism (or rather, lets it speak for itself in the nature of the thematic material) and gives a classically energetic and even athletic account of these works. He has a very focused tone -- not a big "full" Perlman-like one -- and he uses it here to play with a combination of precision, pace, and elegance that is very winning. Szell and a scaled-down Cleveland Orchestra back him to the hilt in the Mendelssohn (recorded 1961), and the sound and balance are very good. Mendelssohn composed the piece for the virtuoso Ferdinand David and the combination of elegance (in the first and second movements especially) and sheer energy (in the last) is irresistible. Grumiaux might bring even more elegance and poignancy, but this works its own magic.
The Tchaikovsky is even more remarkable. It's a piece I've been averse to until I heard Midori and Abbado give their very refined and superbly recorded account of it. Here, with Schippers and the NY Philharmonic, there isn't as much refinement in the sound, but Francescatti catches a Mendelssohnian lightness in the first movement, and understated eloquence in the second, and then gives an account of the third that is genuinely witty and charming as well as superbly played. In the hesitant opening of that third movement, he seems to be saying, "I don't really want to get into this!" but, of course, he has to, and off he goes with great spirit. In the section of "conversation" with solo instruments from the orchestra, there seems a touch of self-mockery, a pseudo-virtuostic "souping up" that is just funny, and then off hell-for-leather into the ending. Schippers is on board with it all, and the effect is exhilarating. This is a great re-issue and I'm very happy to have re-acquired it.