Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor, Op.61 (1880) [26:46]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K219 Turkish (1775) [28:40]
Lola Bobesco (violin)
Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart/Hans Müller-Kray
rec. July 1961, Villa Berg Saal 1, Stuttgart (Saint-Saëns) and May 1962, Schloss, Schwetzingen (Mozart, live)
MELOCLASSIC MC 2006 [55:27]
Romanian violinist Lola Bobesco (1921-2003) was a classmate of Ginette Neveu, and a student at the Paris Conservatory where Bobesco’s teacher was the eminent soloist and pedagogue Jules Boucherit. In 1935, seeing Neveu’s name among the entrants, she decided not to enter the Wieniawski Competition but two years she came a very respectable seventh in the Ysaÿe Competition – the winner was David Oistrakh, and Odnoposoff, Elisabeth Gilels and Boris Goldstein took the top four places. Bobesco’s solo debut came in 1936, after which she began a short-lived, if elite, trio with Antonio Janigro and fellow Romanian Dinu Lipatti. She was a courier for the French Resistance during the War after which she resumed her career, often in partnership with her husband, the pianist Jacques Genty. Though they were to divorce they remained friends and continued to perform together. They recorded Fauré’s First Sonata twice, the first time in 1949 and then again in 1977 when they also recorded the second sonata and other smaller pieces. Perhaps her most admired recording, it remains an outstanding example of her art on disc, and also reflects the outstanding rapport she and Genty had with French and Belgian music, as their Lekeu and Franck sonata discs are no less distinguished.
Bobesco suffered terrible stage fright one night in Berlin in 1960 when she performed the Brahms Concerto with Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting. A year later she was in Stuttgart to perform Saint-Seëns’s Third Concerto for radio transmission where no such trouble afflicted her. It was a concerto she recorded commercially in her native Romania with Ionescu-Galante directing the Romanian Radio Symphony Orchestra on the Electrecord label. Bobesco had a slightly tense vibrato when she was younger, a point I made when reviewing her Lalo Symphonie Espagnole recording made in 1942 with Bigot conducting (on Malibran). This isn’t so much of a concern twenty years later in Stuttgart where she plays with a degree of charisma and style. Her slides are highly effective, never sleek or ungainly, and she evinces purity of intonation. The close-up recording ensures that a degree of fingerboard clatter can be heard at a few points, especially in the more lyric moments, and when changing bow, but we can also hear plenty of drive and brio, and an authoritative intensity.
Hans Müller-Kray was also on the podium a year later when she played Mozart’s A major concerto with the Stuttgart orchestra. Once again she did leave behind a commercial recording of this, again with the Romanian Radio Symphony, conducted by C Bobesco on Electrecord once again. I’ve never heard it, so perhaps an eagle-eyed reader can confirm who C Bobesco was or was it, by any chance, a misprint for L Bobesco? She did turn to conducting in the second part of her life when living in Brussels, and self-directed performances and recordings with her chamber orchestra. Given the unavailability of her Romanian LPs this Stuttgart performances makes a valuable appendix. She’s not quite so forward in the balance here, but her musicality reveals a buoyant and communicative approach, especially in the intense plateau of the slow movement, which she vests with truly prayerful qualities. The finale is a little hammered out by the orchestra but Bobesco plays adroitly.
Bobesco made a number of German tours in the 1960s. There’s a Vieuxtemps No.5 with Karl Böhm on Audite from 1963 which expands her discography still further. She may not have enjoyed a top-flight career but Bobesco was a searching, assured violinist whose specialism in the Franco-Belgian repertoire should not detract from her command in other areas, such as her Mozart. I do hope Meloclassic has more Bobesco from this period awaiting release.