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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.4 in D, K218 [23:13]
Violin Concerto No.5 in A, K219 ‘Turkish’ [27:38]
Michele Auclair (violin)
Stuttgart Philharmonic/Marcel Couraud
rec. 1961, Stuttgart

These recordings of Mozart Violin Concertos 4 and 5 are dated 1961, and derive from a Fontana LP. The orchestra is the Stuttgart Philharmonic under the baton of Marcel Couraud. They’ve appeared on CD before on Japanese Philips, which is where I first encountered them. This seems to be their one and only CD incarnation in the West.

Michèle Auclair was fortunate to be raised in an artistic environment; her father and grandfather were both amateur musicians and painters. She was born in Paris in 1924. Line Talluel was her first teacher, who also taught that other great French violinist Ginette Neveu. She then went on to study at the Paris Conservatoire with Jules Boucherit, Jacques Thibaud and Boris Kamensky. In 1943 she was prize winner of the first Marguerite Long – Jacques Thibaud Competition; Samson François, a later close friend, won the piano prize. This was followed by another triumph in 1946 when she clinched first prize in the Geneva International Competition. This propelled her onto the world stage and an international career beckoned. Sadly, in the mid-sixties, she was involved in an automobile accident which put paid to her career as a soloist. She devoted the rest of her life to teaching and supporting young violinists both at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris (1969-1989), and at the New England Conservatory in Boston (1989-2002). She died in Paris on 10 June 2005, aged eighty.

Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218 has always been my favorite of the five. Maybe it’s because it’s the first one I got to know, in a recording by Johanna Martzy on a Heliodor LP, where she was partnered by Eugen Jochum. It makes a fine pairing with No. 5. Auclair is wonderful in Mozart, being a stylish player with a formidable technique, always put to the service of the music. Her refined and expressive playing draws you in immediately, and you’re never let down by playing that is mannered or indulgent. One notices that her intonation is flawless. She’s particularly expressive in the glowing cantabiles of the slow movements. The cadenzas in both concertos I didn’t recognize; maybe they’re her own. What I particularly like in these two performances is that Marcel Couraud keeps the music fresh and buoyant, providing a warm and sparkling accompaniment. The tempi he sets are well-chosen and feel just right.

These are lovely vivid transfers, which bring these captivating performances to life. There are no booklet notes, but indications to relevant websites are noted on the back tray.

Stephen Greenbank

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