Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Sonata in C major, KV 296 (1778) [16:21]
Violin Sonata in E minor, KV 304 (1778) [11:52]
Violin Sonata in B major, KV 454 (1784) [22:55]
Violin Sonata in A major, KV 526 (1787) [20:19]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 12/3 (1797/98) [19:23]
Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30/2 (1803) [26:03]
Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 Kreutzer (1803) [33:12]
Lola Bobesco (violin)
Jacques Genty (piano)
rec. July 1958, Ludwigsburg, Schloss Ordenssal, South German Radio
MELOCLASSIC MC2023 [71:28 + 78:38]

Lola Bobesco was represented in the first tranche of releases from Meloclassic (review) and here she is again, this time enjoying the pleasures of extended, two-disc gatefold representation. The recitals were given in Ludwigsburg on two days in July 1958 with her ex-husband and constant sonata partner, Jacques Genty.

The repertoire is strictly canonic; Mozart and Beethoven sonatas. The earlier disc [MC2006] presented her in Mozart’s K219 Concerto but also in Saint-SaŽns’ Concerto No.3 and if one yearns to hear Bobesco and Genty in Franco-Belgian repertoire because of their marvellous LP legacy, nevertheless the opportunity to hear them in the central classics should not be spurned.

What adds significantly to the desirability of this twofer, certainly for violin mavens, is the fact that they recorded no Mozart sonatas commercially. She did record the Duos and a couple of the concertos as well as the Sinfonia Concertante. When it comes to the Beethoven recital, she recorded Op.30/3 twice; otherwise nothing survives from the studio. The preserved radio legacy is therefore a boon.

The Mozart sonatas are played with vibrancy and warmth. Rapport between the two is naturally splendid. K304 provides an early opportunity to gauge whether she is your kind of Mozart fiddler. Her vibrato is still inclined to be oscillatory and phrasing can be rather insistent. She sounds intermittently uncomfortable in this sonata – which is, I assume, the first played in the programme – and this despite tuning between movements. Her Mozart playing is rich and robust, so she can be a bit too loud at the start of the central slow movement of K296, though Genty plays with delightful simplicity, but artfulness. She widens her vibrato romantically during the course of this movement but proves sprightly in the finale. She’s communicative in K454, with some raspy bowing and she plays the slow movement warmly even if her vibrato is again a touch insistent. The contrasts of refinement and guttural intensity are maximally exploited in the Andante of K526 and its finale is teasingly done. If your ne plus ultra of Mozart sonata playing is, say, Grumiaux or Goldberg, I suspect you will find Bobesco rather too meaty. For my own tastes I think Genty is the more malleable and convincing Mozartean.

Bobesco is certainly never dull. There’s plenty of strong chording in the opening of Beethoven’s Op.12 No.3, though not always optimal clarity. The songful, melancholic cantilena of the slow movement is treated as an aria, including its more vehement moments. Combative accents mark out the C minor, Op.30, and indeed her phrasing remains on the tense side, though her vibrato is under good control. Her and Genty’s view of the Kreutzer is marked by nervous intensity. The opening is somewhat abrasive but fully conveys the agitation of the conception. Perhaps they are just slightly too close to the microphone. Genty opens the variational central movement slowly and solemnly, intensifying with subtlety. This is a strongly conceived and characterized performance, with the lighter elements respected – some duos tend to be too po-faced about these. Pity about the badly timed audience coughs at the end of this central movement. The finale is vitalising and engaging, a few trivial slips aside. Audience applause is cut.

This twofer is especially valuable for filling important gaps in this duo’s legacy. The notes are fine and so too the restoration, ensuring the strong-willed performances are heard in the best possible light.

Jonathan Woolf