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Jonathan Woolf
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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (1806) [44:42]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 (1717–23) [16:06]
Tommaso VITALI (1663-1745)
Chaconne in G minor, for violin and orchestra arr. Genty [10:29]
Lola Bobesco (violin)
South-West German Radio Orchestra/Hans Müller-Kray
rec. 1957 and 1960, Villa Berg, SDR, Stuttgart
MELOCLASSIC MC2036 [71:20]

The collaboration between Lola Bobesco and conductor Hans Müller-Kray in the late 1950s and early 1960s has proved fruitful for Meloclassic. An earlier tranche of their discs included one in which they performed Saint-Saëns and Mozart (review). Now it’s Beethoven, Bach and an orchestrated version of Vitali’s Chaconne that take centre stage and she recorded none of these three works commercially, which is invariably a prime consideration for selection by this label

She takes a broad tempo for the Beethoven first movement and for those unsympathetic things can sound a little sluggish from time to time. What’s not in doubt is Bobesco’s canny use of intensified vibrato speed, finger position changes and shifts and at this slowish speed one can also hear orchestral detailing that passes by in more tensile readings. Bobesco’s relaxation into the second subject may well have seemed rather romanticised even in 1960 but it’s a conception she maintains with discipline even, just occasionally, at the expense of consistent tonal production. She is predictably relaxed in the central movement, ardent rather than seraphic, and charges into the cadential bridge passage into the finale with bravado and abandon. She plays the Rondo with fire and rhythmic vitality.

Both the Bach and Vitali performances come from a single concert broadcast from Stuttgart’s Villa Berg in July 1957. In another Meloclassic release Jeanne Gautier plays the companion Bach concerto in E major with Hans Rosbaud. Müller-Kray offers a far lighter and springier conception for Bobesco than had Rosbaud for Gautier. With tempos that are fairly buoyant for the time and attractive interplay between soloist and orchestra there is less room for stylistic manoevering for Bobesco and though she essays some expressive slides and is more personalised in the slow movement she is nowhere near as idiosyncratic as the much older Gautier.

The Vitali is heard in the orchestration made by her long-time sonata partner Jacques Genty, not the familiar Respighi. She plays this with lyricism and with real flair.

The audio restorations are fully up to the high standards established by Meloclassic and with classy artwork and notes this can enthusiastically be added to the roster of imaginatively programmed discs from this label.

Jonathan Woolf

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