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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) 
Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61 (1806) [42:03]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 (1717–23) [18:29]
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)
Poème Op.25 (1896) [14:08]
Janine Andrade (violin: Beethoven)
Jeanne Gautier (violin: Bach and Chausson)
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Franz Konwitschny (Beethoven)
South-West German Radio Orchestra/Hans Rosbaud (Bach)
Orchester des Reichssenders Frankfurt/Hans Rosbaud (Chausson)
rec. 1937, Frankfurt, Funkhaus (Chausson); 1951, Baden-Baden Studio 1, SWF (Bach); 1959, Liederhalle, Stuttgart (Beethoven)
MELOCLASSIC MC2038 [74:43]

It’s been some time since the last issue from Meloclassic so the release of a new tranche of discs is greatly to be welcomed by enthusiasts for never-before released historic performances. The first disc in my in-tray is devoted to two French violinists who have both appeared in previous releases from the label, Janine Andrade and Jeanne Gautier.

It’s Andrade who plays the Beethoven Concerto with Franz Konwitschny and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in November 1959. The choice of work complements the Beethoven sonata broadcasts in the previous volume devoted to her. She proves a resilient, untempremental exponent of the concerto with only very brief intonational lapses, and these early on, before she has fully played herself in. She tightens her tone expressively and keeps passagework alive and doesn’t drag the second subject. A few noises-off during the cadenza attest to the taut realities of a live broadcast. Her playing in the slow movement is sensitive though not seraphically phrased, and she inflects with care. There’s one ‘Heifetz slide’ to enjoy. She has a slight tendency to swell on strategic notes in the finale but her playing is spirited and engaging. Konwitschny is attentive to the horn harmonies and high winds – though they aren’t always perfectly balanced, which is either his responsibility or the engineers’ or a combination of the two.

Jeanne Gautier was a generation older than Andrade and espoused the resinous intensity of one arm of the French violin school. In both her performances she’s accompanied by Hans Rosbaud. The Bach Concerto comes from Baden-Baden in 1951 and finds the conductor in big-boned form with Wagnerian basses to buttress the line. The sound itself is fine. One can hear her abrasive bowing from time to time as well as one very marked rallentando – it reminds me of the preparation for a 78 turnover – that luxuriates in Romanticism. She makes noticeable slides in the slow movement and her medium speed vibrato, and consequentially medium speed trills, promote some real pathos here. Her finale is lively, and she makes plenty of sinewy contrast in articulation and effect. It’s a most stimulating performance that would hardly be countenanced these days, and so much the worse for these days.

In Frankfurt in 1937 she espoused Chausson’s Poème, as she had Ravel’s Tzigane, which can be found in the previous Meloclassic disc. It highlights her affinity with her national repertoire and because so very different from Ginette Neveu’s familiar, full-bloodied reading, offers a contrasting tonal and interpretative conception. It’s largely because of this lack of bravura opulence that one finds moments of almost emotive fragility in her reading. Once again, the sound quality is excellent. In fact, I felt the full force of Rosbaud’s basses even more here than in the post-war Bach.

Michael Waiblinger’s English-only booklet notes admirably portray the two women’s biographies accompanied by some excellently reproduced photographs. As noted, the sound quality is first class. Because neither woman recorded these works commercially, their admirers will want to add this disc to their shelves.

Jonathan Woolf

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