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Lola Bobesco - The SWR Recordings
Lola Bobesco (violin)
Jacques Genty (piano)
Giusto Cappone (viola)
Sinfonieorchester des Suddeutschen Rundfunks/Hans-Muller-Kray
Saarlandisches Kammerorchester/Karl Ristenpart
rec. 1957-61
SWR MUSIC SWR19067CD [3 CDs: 185:01]

Lola Bobesco was born in Craiova, Romania. 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, where she took first prize in 1934. Later she was mentored by Georges Enescu and Jacques Thibaud. In 1931 she entered the Ysaÿe Competition in which she came seventh. During the war, she acted as a courier. 1938 was significant, as she met the French pianist Jacques Genty. The two not only forged a productive musical partnership, but also married in 1944. They eventually settled in Belgium but divorced twelve years later. Their musical partnership survived another thirty-five years. In addition to a successful concert career, Bobesco taught violin at Brussels Conservatoire, and later at Liège (1962-1974). She died in Spa, Belgium in 2003.

Not all of the recordings here are seeing the light of day on CD for the first time. The collaborations with Hans Müller-Kray at the helm of the Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart have all appeared previously on the Meloclassic label. The Vaňhal Concerto and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with Karl Ristenpart are, as far as I'm aware, new to the catalogue.

Baroque and early Romantic music played a significant role in Bobesco's repertoire. The first CD concerns itself with early music. The three movements of Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 are played with nicely chosen tempi and benefit from a lithe approach. Throughout, there's a blend of virtuosity and rhythmic flexibility. The Andante is sculpted with tenderness; the finale is lightly sprung and sparkling. Bobesco's husband Jacques Genty made the arrangement of the Vitali Chaconne for soloist and orchestra. It's the perfect vehicle to display Bobesco's stunning technical command. Vaňhal’s Concerto for Violin and Piano is a newcomer to me. In three movements, it conforms to a fast slow fast plan. The outer movements are smiling and uplifting with the solo writing well apportioned to the two instruments. Centremost is an eloquent Andante. Jacques Genty is the piano soloist. Karl Ristenpart provides admirable support.

Mozart is the focus of CD 2. Rispenpart conducts the Saarlandisches Kammerorchester in the 1957 performance of the Sinfonia Concertante. Bobesco is partnered by Giusto Cappone on viola. It’s a transcendental reading with both soloists matching phrase for phrase. They’re also equally sensitive to the nuances and inflections of the music. The Fifth Violin Concerto 'Turkish' with Müller-Kray offers the violinist the perfect vehicle for displaying her range of expression and colour. There’s plenty of sparkle and zest in the outer movements, with poetic engagement in the beguiling Adagio.

CD 3 opens with a compelling account of the Beethoven Concerto. Müller-Kray takes a slower tempo in the opening tutti than Edgar Doneux does in the violinist’s 1982 recording on the Classic Talent label. He goes on to shape a noble and epic opening movement. Bobesco gives a truly personal reading and makes much of the reflective moments in the music. She uses the Joachim cadenza, which she delivers with technical assuredness. The slow movement is sensitively contoured and radiant in its expression. A rhythmically buoyant finale, both agile and resolute, brings the concerto to a thrilling conclusion. The Saint-Saëns Third Violin Concerto, with the same conductor and orchestra, was taped a year later in 1961. Of the composer's three concertos for the instrument, this one is by far the most popular. At its centre sits a ravishingly seductive slow movement, which Bobesco lovingly shapes. Having said that, though, the whole concerto is bursting with ear-catching melodies.

These remastered archive recordings, transferred from the original SWR and SR tapes, are well-served in this compilation, and presented in good sound and balance. The annotations, in German, with English translation, are supplied by Wolfgang Wendel.

Stephen Greenbank

CD 1 [53:26]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto no.1 in A minor, BWV1041 [16:11]
Tomaso Antonio VITALI (1663-1745)
Chaconne G minor (arr. Jacques Genty) [10:33]
Johann Baptist VAŇHAL (1738-1813)
Concerto in C major for piano, violin and orchestra [26:37]*

CD 2 [59:46]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra in E flat major, K364 [32:02]*
Violin Concerto no.5 in A major, K219 'Turkish' [28:38]

CD 3 [71:49]
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 [43:47]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Violin Concerto no.3 in B minor, Op.61 [26:56]

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