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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 [45:49]
Coriolan Overture, Op. 62 [7:45]
Leonora III Overture, Op. 72a [14:46]
Franco Gulli (violin)
Orchestra des Concerts Lamoureux, Munich Philharmonic/Rudolf Albert
rec. 12 May 1958, Salle Wagram, Paris; 1950s, Munich
Stereo and mono

Although the Italian violinist Franco Gulli’s (1926-2001) name might not be that well-known today, there are a few of his recordings available at this present time on labels such as Idis, First Hand Records, along with several on the Forgotten Records label, a couple of which I’ve already reviewed (review ~ review). This Beethoven Concerto, a studio recording from 1958, is their latest offering, newly remastered from Le Club Français Du Disque (CDF 173) and Musidisc (RC 602) stereo LPs.

Gulli was born in Trieste and studied violin with his father Franco Gulli (senior), who had been a pupil of Otakar Ševčík and Jan Mařák at the Prague Conservatory. Later he continued his studies with Joseph Szigeti in Switzerland. He launched his career as concertmaster of the Milan Chamber Orchestra and soloist of the renowned ensemble I Virtuosi di Roma. In 1947 he met pianist Enrica Cavallo, and the two formed the  Gulli-Cavallo Duo in 1947. In 1950 they married. Aside from his concertizing, Gulli gave masterclasses and sat on the juries of several international competitions. He was a member of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome, the Accademia Cherubini, Florence, and the Reale Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, and held a Professorship at the University of Bloomington in Indiana.

This is one of the finest recordings of the Beethoven Concerto I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Its success is due in part to the compelling collaborative partnership and singularity of vision between soloist and orchestra. Rudolf Albert paces the concerto well and is acutely sensitive to the nuances of Gulli’s playing. The orchestra have an imposing sonorousness and play with compelling authority. The opening movement is monumental, with nobility of expression, and Gulli performs with patrician elegance and wisdom. He uses the Kreisler cadenza which he carries off with immaculate precision. In the second movement his warm tone illuminates the lyrical line. The finale is playful and impish, with the coda presenting the soloist as triumphant hero. Gulli projects well, and his glowing, vibrant tone is suitably balanced against the orchestra.

The two fillers are mono recordings from the early 1950s, taken from a Mercury LP (MG 15002). ‘Coriolan is given a dramatically potent reading, which is rhythmically vital. ‘Leonore III is, similarly, an outstanding account, dramatically intense and rhetorically eloquent.

This is a delightful disc offering much to savour. No notes are included, which doesn't present a problem in repertoire such as this.

Stephen Greenbank


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