S0789. LOLA BOBESCO, w.Hans Müller-Kray & Karl Ristenpart Cond. SWR S.O.: Bach, Vitali, Vanhal, Mozart, Beethoven & Saint-Saëns. (Germany) 3-SWR 19067, Recorded 1957-61. Final Sealed Copy! - 747313906789
“Romanian violin virtuoso Lola Bobesco (1921-2003) seldom receives the due that she deserves, given her extraordinary talent and prestigious honors, including having placed seventh in the historic 1937 Eugene Ysaye International Competition in Brussels in which David Oistrakh placed first, perhaps based on the (Soviet) political situation rather than upon sheer musical talent. This compilation from SWR, Stuttgart embraces performances 1957-1961, when Bobesco had entered a mature, burnished phase of her career, and her long association with pianist Jacques Genty had fused them into a duo as reliable as that of Menuhin and Kentner. Bobesco’s sterling tone first came to my attention via a Philips recording of the Vitale Chaconne with piano accompaniment; and here, from 5 July 1957, she plays the work with Müller-Kray and orchestra, a performance that rivals my preferred version with Francescatti and De Stoutz.
Disc One opens with a resonant, romantically inclined Bach A minor Concerto with Müller-Kray, inflected with Bobesco’s generous, broad vibrato. Her tonal warmth quite glows in the Andante, approached with a serene leisure. A vibrant simplicity marks her concluding Allegro assai, which she and Müller-Kray drive forward with seamless aplomb. After the mesmerizing Vitale, we hear the infrequent charms of music by Bohemian composer Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813), well a contemporary of Haydn and a master of no mean ability. The Concerto for Piano and Violin (12 June 1957) pairs Bobesco and ex-husband and duo partner Getty with Baroque specialist Karl Ristenpart (1900-1967). The entire performance of this high-spirited work enjoys a fertile élan and natural ease of style. The piano entry for the opening Allegro has the plastic joie we associate with Scarlatti and Galuppi. The violin has its own, distinct entry, and then the pair launch into unison scales or antiphonal episodes. The Saar flute adds to the joyous mix, and the tuttis chug at a brisk clip. The affecting Andante proffers a melodic line to be envied by any other master of the period. Genty responds first, evolving a kind of solo sonata line which Bobesco then elaborates. She then has plucked figures and trills to accompany Genty’s ornamented line. At times, the music has the airy quality of a Mozart cassation or Haydn divertimento. The occasional sojourn into minor harmonies cast a Baroque aura into the cantabile moment. The last movement Allegro simply extends the lyrical and fluent spirits, once more with Genty’s frolics with flute just prior to Bobesco’s entry. The two solo instruments may well compete for primacy of exuberant expression.
Disc Two presents all Mozart: the Sinfonia concertante (13 April 1957) has viola master Giusto Cappone in splendid harmony with Bobesco and conductor Ristenpart. If any music ‘drops from the sky’ more miraculously than the soli entries in the Allegro maestoso movement, I challenge anyone to name it. The cadenzas for this work, in Mozart’s hand, make the piece that much more significant among his string concertos. The spontaneity and warmth of approach ensure that those who explore will return to this musical moment often. The mesmerizing Andante sets us an extended operatic aria worthy of any moment in COSI FAN TUTTE. The last movement Presto takes a Lombardic rhythm in 2/4 and manages to so divide the beats that triplets flow forth. Cappone and Bustabo respectively trade entries in the course of the swirling inventions of melody and texture, while Ristenpart’s canny support can seem palpable and invisible, at once. The ‘Turkish’ Concerto derives from a live broadcast of 20 May 1962, once more with Müller-Kray. The last of the ‘official’ violin concertos of 1775, this A Major Concerto projects both chastity and nobility entirely unique. Bobesco takes her initial entry very slowly, basking in the music’s serene departure from the music of the opening tutti. The she and conductor Müller-Kray launch into the Allegro aperto with a singing resolve that will suffuse the performance proper. The Turkish element has the pasha and his train accompanied by col legno strings and dervishly seductive variants from Bobesco’s exotic palette. The minuet returns with ingenuous naiveté.
Disc three delivers two of the largest canvases, the 4 July !961 Beethoven Concerto in D and the 6 October 1960 Saint-Saëns Third Concerto. Bobesco and Müller-Kray achieve a sonorous poise throughout, especially in the G Major Concerto in b minor Larghetto. Camille Saint-Saens 1880 b minor Concerto provides a dramatic complement to the Beethoven, composed as it had been for Pablo de Sarasate, sporting two outer movements of somber resolve and a middle Andantino quasi allegretto that evokes a summer pastoral or barcarolle, ending with pungent, octave harmonics from Bobesco in tandem with low clarinets. The broad, uncut approach to the Concerto rivals the classic version from Nathan Milstein, with the advantage of a conductor who generates more personality into the orchestral tissue. The first movement gains a fervent intensity in winds and brass while Bobesco spins out the secondary melody in seamless triplets. Always, Bobesco has dug deeply into her strings to project a hearty, visceral passion into works she has long cherished in a fulsome repertorty.”
–Gary Lemco, Audiophile Auditions, 19 Dec., 2019
“Lola Bobesco was a Romanian violinist who spent most of her career in Europe and many of those years were spent in Belgium, which is why Bobesco is frequently referred to as a Belgian violinist. She initially studied with her father, a noted composer and conductor. At age 6, she gave her first public recital. From 1928 to 1935, she studied at the Normal School of Music in Paris. Her main teacher there was Marcel Chailley, a well-known violinist of the time. She almost simultaneously studied at the Paris Conservatory from 1931 to 1935, with Jules Boucherit. She also studied privately with George Enescu and Jacques Thibaud. She apparently made her orchestral debut in Paris in 1936 with the (Edouard) Colonne Orchestra with Paul Paray conducting. Paray would later become chief conductor of the Detroit Symphony, when Detroit was in its prime. It was an unusual debut in that she performed not a concerto from the standard repertoire but a work by a now-obscure Romanian composer, Stan Golestan. She was 17 years old. The next year, she won seventh prize in the Queen Elizabeth (Eugene Ysaye) violin competition - David Oistrakh came in first. After that, she returned to Romania and established a career in Bucharest. On January 17, 1960 she made her first appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing the Brahms Concerto. She was 38 years old. She performed with most of the major European orchestras, including the Concertgebouw, the London Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic, under conductors famous at the time, including Rudolf Kempe, Ernest Ansermet, Karl Bohm, and Otto Klemperer. Having relocated to Belgium in her early thirties, from 1958 to 1978, she led the Royal Wallonia Chamber Orchestra in Mons, Belgium, situated about 30 miles south of Brussels. She was also violin professor at the Brussels Conservatory. From 1962 to 1974, she taught at the Liege Conservatory. In 1990, she founded a string quartet as well - the Arte Del Suono Quartet. She was 69 years old. Her violin, among others, was a 1754 GB Guadagnini. Bobesco died (in Sart lez Spa, Belgium) on September 4, 2003, at age 82, largely forgotten.”
- Prone to Violins, 16 Feb., 2014