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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K.216 [24:20]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 [34:36]
Brigitte Huyghues de Beaufond (violin)
Orchestre de la Radio d'Istambul/Djemal Rachid (Mozart)
Orchestre de la Radio d'Alger/Franz André (Tchaikovsky)
rec. live December 1958 (Mozart); 22 March 1960 (Tchaikovsky)

It's as well that Forgotten Records provide a biography of the Paris-born violinist Brigitte Huyghues de Beaufond (1922-2008), because there’s next to nothing on the internet about her. If you can read French, then Alexis Galpérine's liner will enlighten you. Apparently she never made any commercial recordings, but live airings have surfaced over the years. As far as I can gather, Forgotten Records are the only label to have featured her, and this is their third volume of her live concerts. My reviews of the previous two can be found here (review ~ review). She was a student of the French pedagogue Jules Boucherit, who fostered the talents of a clutch of fine female violinists including Ginette Neveu, Michèle Auclair and Lola Bobesco.

We are now in the enviable position of having two live airings of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 by Huyghues de Beaufond. The other was issued on FR1279. I was able to do a head-to-head comparison of the two versions, which was most revealing. The present release features a performance from Istambul Radio, which predates the later Paris recording by two years. This 1958 traversal, under the direction of Djemal Rachid, who I’ve never heard of before, has the drawback of having been recorded in a rather cavernous acoustic, which lacks the warmth and intimacy of the later performance. I found the sound quality hard-edged. The soloist seems to be having an off-day. Her tone is lean and lacks variety of colour, and the performance is loveless and uninspired, lacking genteel refinement. The finale, especially, is joyless and fails to raise a smile. The playing sounds detached. The previous performance on FR1279 couldn’t be more different. For a start, it’s more warmly recorded, and Huyghues de Beaufond reaches more inspired heights under the wonderful direction of Pierre Capdevielle.

All is not lost, however, as the violinist warms more readily to the Tchaikovsky Concerto, taped in 1960. To begin with, the sound quality is much better. Huyghues de Beaufond and André egg each other on to take risks, and the result is an exciting, daring and edge-of-seat performance. Every technical challenge is met with assured virtuosity. This is certainly a performance that stands up to repeated listening, and I’ll certainly be revisiting it.
Stephen Greenbank

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