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Cantatas for Soprano

 

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Sonata in E minor, KV 304 [11:52]
Violin Sonata in C major, KV 296 [16:21]
Violin Sonata in B major, KV 454 [22:55]
Violin Sonata in A major, KV 526 [20:19]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 12/3 [19:23]
Violin Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30/2 [26:03]
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 Kreutzer [33:12]
Lola Bobesco (violin)
Jacques Genty (piano)
rec. 4-6 July 1958, Ludwigsburg, Schloss Ordenssal, South German Radio
MELOCLASSIC MC2023 [71:28 + 78:38]

This 2-CD release from Meloclassic steps up to the plate by filling a major lacuna in the somewhat slender discographical legacy of the Romanian violinist Lola Bobesco. Up until researching for this review I wasn’t aware of the duo having recorded any Mozart or Beethoven sonatas commercially, with the exception of the latter’s Op. 30, No. 3. I recently learned of a twofer put out by Tower records in their ’Vintage Collection’ (vol. 4) of Mozart’s K.378, 454 and 304, together with Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ and ‘Kreutzer’ Sonatas – all Philips recordings. Needless to say, it’s impossible to obtain in the West, which makes this Meloclassic issue even more desirable.

Lola Bobesco was born, according to most sources, in 1921 in Craiova, Romania although Tully Potter, in his accompanying notes to Testament SBT 1360, puts the year as 1919. Her father was a composer, violinist and teacher, and gave Lola her first lessons. She then progressed on to Marcel Chailley and from there to Jules Boucherit at the Paris Conservatoire, from whose fertile stable came Ginette Neveu, Devy Erlih, Henri Temianka, Michèle Auclair and Denise Soriano, who married him, despite a forty year age gap. Later, Georges Enescu and Jacques Thibaud had some input. In 1934, Bobesco took the Conservatoire’s first prize.

The Bobesco/Genty musical partnership dated back to 1945, and three years later in 1948 they married. Whilst the marriage only lasted fourteen years, they continued to perform together until 2000, when Lola retired. They lived in Belgium, and Bobesco taught violin at Brussels Conservatory, and later at Liège (1962-1974). Jacques Genty (1921-2014), a pupil of Lazare-Lévy (1882-1964), began his career as a soloist, but later discovered that his true vocation lay in playing chamber music and accompanying. The pair undertook several tours together, to Japan, the Far East, South Africa, but never to the States. The violinist died in 2003.

Mozart’s Violin Sonata in E minor, KV 304 is perhaps the least technically demanding of the group, and a useful vehicle for helping the duo play themselves in. The Allegro is more driven than many accounts I’ve heard, and the rhythmic energy leaves no sense of savoring the moment. The slow movement of K 296 is eloquently persuasive and the finale is forward moving with no slackening of rhythm. Bobesco achieves some crisply incisive spiccato bowing. In K 454 Mozart gives more equality to both instruments than in any of the other sonatas. Perhaps this accounts for its enduring popularity. There is a tangible rapport between the two artists, giving some indication of the tremendous success the duo had. The inward quality and luminous warmth of the slow movement has scarcely been matched. The upbeat character of Violin Sonata in A major, KV 526 is realized with some gleaming virtuosity, resulting in a beautifully managed, life-affirming performance.

The duo meet the technical demands of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 12/3 full-on with some bold and audacious playing. There’s some wise planning positioning the Op. 30/2 between the two virtuosic large-scaled works, with an element of contrast factored in. The C Minor Sonata has a more profound and serious personality, full of drama and passion. The darker elements in the score are truly brought out in this compelling performance. The Adagio cantabile is pensive and wistful and radiates the heartfelt eloquence of Beethoven’s writing. The turbulence and strife in the finale is uncompromising. The monumental ‘Kreutzer’ has plenty of chutzpah, and the duo’s sense of structure and architecture guarantees the success of the performance. There’s plenty of tension, imagination, energy and drive. The only bugbear is the rather lumbering variation movement. I would have appreciated a little more drive and forward momentum. The finale makes up for these shortcomings with plenty of fire, vitality and, most of all, a sense of fun.

These live recordings were taped by South German Radio over three days in July 1958 at the Schloss Ordenssal, Ludwigsburg. Whilst tuning and minimum audience presence can be detected between movements, applause hasn’t been retained. Balance between the two instrumentalists couldn’t be improved, and sound quality is all that could be wished.

Nicely presented in an attractive gatefold, the excellent English liner contribution by Michael Waiblinger is graced by two black and white photos of the young violinist. Lovers of fine violin playing won’t be disappointed.

Stephen Greenbank
 
Previous review: Jonathan Woolf



 

 




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