L’Art de Aida Stucki
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D Op. 61 (1806) [44:27]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto No.2 in E major BWV1042 [18:03]
Aida Stucki (violin)
Radio-Beromünster Orchestra (Zurich)/Hermann Scherchen (Beethoven)
Walter Barylli (violin)
Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera/ Hermann Scherchen (Bach)
rec. live, 30 December 1949, Zurich (Beethoven) and studio, July 1953, Vienna (Bach)
TAHRA TAH663 [63:53]

This most interesting disc was released three years before the recent death of violinist Aida Stucki (1921-2011). In later years she was known more for being the teacher of Anne Sophie Mutter, than for her own profound strengths as a soloist, but fortunately this disc, and others, attests to her fine level of musicianship. She was born in Cairo to a Swiss father and a Sicilian mother and studied successively with Ernst Wolters, a distinguished pupil of Bram Elderling, and then Stefi Geyer – who was closely associated with Schoeck and Bartók – and finally with Carl Flesch.

This equipped her splendidly both technically and interpretatively. She’d worked on the Beethoven concerto with Flesch, and in 1949 Hermann Scherchen invited her to perform it on a concert tour in Switzerland. This radio broadcast is a precious surviving document of their collaboration and an early example of the young Stucki’s acumen. Certainly the surviving discs sound not to have been in especially good condition; indeed the notes mention the legion of problems they suffered. However whilst the sound remains dim even after restoration, the orchestral lower strings very woolly and the horns hooty, fortunately Stucki comes through very clearly.

There is 20 seconds of unannounced spoken studio introduction, not separately tracked, and then Scherchen directs the opening paragraphs with a quite relaxed grace, though he speeds up later. Stucki plays with reserved intensity, and they dovetail very well, even at a basically slowish tempo. Stucki plays the Kreisler cadenza to considerable effect, emerging from it to muse introspectively. The slow movement is played with great sympathy and attention to detail, whilst the finale reveals an avuncular and genial quality that ends the performance in high, good spirits. The meeting between Stucki and Scherchen was clearly mutually satisfying.

The coupling however is not more Stucki, but a 1953 commercial recording of Bach’s Concerto in E major. The conductor is again Scherchen, but here the soloist is Walter Barylli, better known as a quartet player. I reviewed his Mozart performances on Preiser 90760. This is a nicely considered performance, spruce, not especially emotive, and Barylli reveals a silvery intelligence when required, not least in the Adagio. The only slight oddity is the prominently over-recorded harpsichord continuo.

This is a revealing and attractive disc, of some historical significance, not least because the Stucki is one of the rare survivors of a catastrophic purge of Radio-Beromünster’s archive.

Jonathan Woolf

A revealing and attractive disc, of some historical significance.