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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 [44:42]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV1041 [16:06]
Tomaso Antonio VITALI (1663-1745)

Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra (arr. Genty) [10:29]
Lola Bobesco (violin)
Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart / Hans Müller-Kray
rec. Villa Berg, Stuttgart, 10 June 1960 (Beethoven), 5 July 1957 (Bach, Vitali)
MELOCLASSIC MC 2036 [71:20]

This is the third volume of radio recordings issued by Meloclassic, featuring the Romanian violinist Lola Bobesco. The first two have been reviewed here and here. Born 1921 in Craiova to a family of musicians, she received her earliest groundings from her father. In 1931-1935 she studied with Jules Boucherit at the Paris Conservatoire, where she won first prize in 1933. From his fertile stable such talents emerged as Ginette Neveu, Devy Erlih, Henri Temianka, Michèle Auclair and Denise Soriano. Georges Enescu and Jacques Thibaud must also be credited for Bobesco’s development. In 1931, she entered the Ysaÿe Competition, won that year by David Oistrakh. She came seventh. 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. Aside from a successful concert career, Bobesco spent her later years teaching at the Conservatories in Brussels and Liège. She died in 2003, aged 82.

These recordings derive from two sessions taped in 1957 and 1960. The orchestra in both cases is the Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart under the inspirational direction of Hans Müller-Kray. They have been expertly restored by Lynn Ludwig.

In the Beethoven Concerto, the first movement tempo is a tad held back by Müller-Kray. It does not flow in quite the same way as in the 1982 recording Bobesco made with Edgar Doneux and the Nouvel Orchestre Symphonique de la RTBF on the Classic Talent label. Having said that, though, the sound quality of this radio recording is a big improvement on the rather cavernous and muddy acoustic of the later airing. Bobesco’s rich, burnished tone is ideal, and her conception of the opening movement is monumental, underpinned by gravitas and dignity. She employs the Joachim cadenza. The slow movement has a magical quality, rich in poetic insights and elegantly managed. The animated finale, lissom and airy, oozes joie de vivre. Müller-Kray maintains a resolute and rhythmically incisive beat throughout.

The other two items on the disc predate the Beethoven by three years. The opening Allegro of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 is nicely paced and briskly delineated. The Andante is stately and noble; Bobesco is tender and ardent in the shaping of her phrases. In the Allegro assai, the lightly sprung dance rhythms are dispatched with an appealing deftness, and they truly sparkle.

Vitali’s Chaconne is heard here in an arrangement for violin and orchestra by Bobesco’s husband Jacques Genty. The orchestral accompaniment works much better, in my view, than the organ or piano. The opening theme is bold and purposeful. The variations which follow become increasing more virtuosic as they progress. They wonderfully showcase Bobesco’s impressive technical arsenal. Müller-Kray and his forces maintain a discreet presence.

On the evidence, the source material has been well preserved, and the Villa Berg, Stuttgart provides a pleasing venue. Michael Wailblinger's accompanying liner notes give interesting background on the artist.

A most satisfying release, and certainly worth a return trip.

Stephen Greenbank
Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

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