S0595. GUILA BUSTABO, w.Robert Heger Cond.Münchinger Rundfunkorchester: Concerto #1 in D (Paganini); Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso in a (Saint-Saëns), recorded 28 Jan., 1959; w.Otmar Nussio Cond.Radio Svizzera Italiana Orch.: Concerto in D (Brahms), recorded 12 Feb., 1963, Lugano. (Germany) Meloclassic 2005. Final sealed copy! - 791154050279
Among the more brilliant and tragic personalities in music stands violin virtuoso Guila Bustabo (1916-2002), a Persinger, Hubay, and Enescu pupil with the temperament of a panther and an absolutely impeccable technique who made the unfortunate career decision to remain in the Nazi-occupied countries during WW II and never quite overcame the affiliation. Dubbed la prima donna assoluta of the violin, Bustabo inspired several composers to write violin concerti for her, like Nussio and Wolf-Ferrari. Several years ago, Thomas Clear and Albert ten Brink of record-collectors fame issued transfers of her all-too-few shellac inscriptionsincluding the Wolf-Ferrari Concerto under Rudolf Kempeto great acclaim. After a windy, tortuous road to semi-obscurity, Bustabowho suffered bipolar disorder and occasional dementiawound up living in two rooms of the YWCA in Birmingham, Alabama and serving as first violin of the local symphony orchestra.
Her tone is easily comparable to that of Menuhin, plaintive and affecting without dipping to sentimental caramel....Her sometimes thin, nasal tone pierces to the heart of each phrase, and her trill is Slavic, chocolate milk....Her ability to graduate a crescendo is a lesson in itself.... The opinion of the German press [was that] Bustabo was an artist with dynamite in her veins.
How to categorize Bustabo? A musical savant, a political naïf. Likely the political climate in Europe during WW II corresponded to the authoritarian grip Bustabo had absorbed from her domineering mother, an influence that destroyed much of the artistic growth she might have enjoyed in the postwar democracies.
Gary Lemco, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, 21 July, 2008
[By age nine, Bustabo had performed with the Chicago Symphony as a young prodigy. She also performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Orchestral Association.] At the age of five, Bustabo had won a local [Illinois] competition with the Bach a minor concerto, whereupon Leon Samétini [a former pupil of the 19th-early 20th century virtuoso and composer Eugène Ysaÿe] secured a scholarship for her in New York. Studies with Louis Persinger at the Juilliard School followed her sensational début there: other pupils in his class, who included Menuhin, remember Bustabo arriving in the mornings with bruises on her arms and head, and drew their own conclusions.
At the age of 15, she played the second Wieniawski Concerto at Carnegie Hall, and she first toured abroad in 1934, starting in London. That year, a consortium including Toscanini bought a Guarneri del Gesù violin for her. Sibelius invited her to his villa in Jarvenpaa in 1937 to play his violin concerto: she did so exactly as he had envisioned it when I composed it. Mother and daughter arrived in Paris before the occupation of May 1940, and there the composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari chanced upon them. He took them into his home, composed a concerto for Bustabo and became her recital partner on tours of Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In occupied Amsterdam in October 1940, she played Bruch's g minor concerto with Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The performance, available on CD, gives a good idea of why she was so fêted: a rapid vibrato is just about held in check enough for facile articulation and a flexible bow arm to deliver constant excitement and tension. A Beethoven concerto [recording], also with Mengelberg, is less stylistically sensitive, but her recording of the Sibelius, made in Berlin, shows a passionate, alert interpreter.
It is unclear whether Blanche somehow managed to hide from her daughter the political crassness of performing in axis territories, or whether Guila was a true naïf. When they arrived back in Paris after the liberation of 1944, General Patton requisitioned Bustabo to play for the US troops - until he learned of her wartime career, and arrested her. But her subsequent de-Nazification did not prevent most US orchestras from declining to have her back, and she continued to tour Europe throughout the 1950s and 60s.
- Peter Quantrill, THE GUARDIAN, 12 June, 2002
Meloclassic was founded in by Lynn Ludwig in Germany in December 2013, the label dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts. Whenever possible, the discs include original radio announcements and applause. The recordings are meant to serve as historical documents. The sound quality tends to remain extraordinarily quiet, with no trace of tape or wire hiss."
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, 20 July, 2014
According to its website, Meloclassic is a non-profit organisation dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts. The first thing to say is that the material, or most of it, is of exceptional artistic interest, and the sound (which is for the most part extremely clean) is thankfully free of excessive filtering
.I look forward to hearing further releases in the not-too-distant future.
- Rob Cowan, GRAMOPHONE, April, 2014
"Presentation is in a digipack with notes tipped in with excellent photographs, by the way, and helpful text, in English in the case of my copy. Surveying the available discs and seeing details of some of those to come - many violinists, chamber ensembles and pianists I have no hesitation in saying that this is potentially the most exciting tranche of broadcast material to be made available in many years."
- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational, 14 June, 2014