Tahra TAH 663, 62:53 [www.tahra.com] **** :
The name Aida Stucki (b. 1921) remains relatively obscure to music lovers and collectors, but this important document literally rescued–by Ms. Stucki–from the “housecleaning” of Swiss Radio archives should revive her repute. A pupil of Ernst Wolters and Carl Flesch, Stucki came to the attention of conductors Abendroth and Scherchen, especially when violinist Stefi Geyer (1888-1956) passed on the score of the Othmar Schoeck Violin Concerto into her hands for future performance. Stucki’s most enduring biographical fact seems to lie in her having taught Anne-Sophie Mutter, who says of Stucki that she “incorporates bewitching sound, personal instinct coupled with great insight to the wishes of the composer.”
The Beethoven Concerto (30 December 1949) passes in good sound, and it elegantly projects a performance of both power and uncanny, tender lyricism and spiritual nobility. Stucki’s tone is quite distinctive: clean, clear, birdlike and “feminine,” without affected delicacy. Somewhat reminiscent of the playing of Bustabo and Martzy, Stucki’s penetrating style might well be mistaken for the softer tissue we hear in Schneiderhan or Olevsky, if we were to ignore gender roles in music. Scherchen’s conducting is no less fiercely lyrical exalted in this, his only surviving document of the Beethoven Concerto. The periods enjoy an expansive grandeur, while the small details of half-step articulation and woodwind support in oboe and bassoon remain sutured to Stucki’s internal shifts in meter and shapely phraseology. Stucki plays the Kreisler cadenza in a broad, throaty style, the lower notes full in the manner of a spirited viola. The transition to the coda with pizzicati strings, bassoon, tympani and French horn thrills one’s sense of aesthetic closure.
Despite some sonic deterioration, the G Major Larghetto casts a haunting aura before it, a plaintive, poised discourse that melts each cadence into the next with liquid authority, the suavity we associate with Neveu and Morini, but with a fuller tone, a fast and richly timbred vibrato. Stucki’s ability to maintain a lyric tension, a high musical line with no sag becomes wistfully evident in the latter part of the slow movement, her part over the string pizzicati, then a broad, arco melos from her intensely personal instrument. She and Scherchen squeeze every drop of musical juice into the transition to the Rondo allegro–the briefest of Kreisler cadenzas leading–then grace and muscular jocosity combine for their assertive variants of Beethoven’s wondrous, flighty dance. Even with the loss of some sonic definition and presence, the relentless drive of the movement insists on our attentions, its lavish celebration of Beethoven’s figures undeniable. Listen to her sail through the secondary theme, accompanied by the Beromuenster bassoon. Scherchen’s conducting itself becomes refreshed by each repetition of Stucki’s entry material, the firmament lit by the luster of their collaboration. We must, with Ms. Stucki herself, be “happy that Tahra label has issued this almost sixty-year-old document and warmly thank Myriam Scherchen and Rene Tremine.”
To fill out this excellent disc, Tahra issues the July 1953 studio recording of the Bach E Major Concerto with violinist and quartet-leader Walter Barylli (b. 1921, a contemporary of Aida Stucki), a performance in a modified “authentic” style, with harpsichord continuo. I must confess to have found Scherchen’s Bach style occasionally ponderous and heavy; but here, the collaboration reveals lithe, quick tempos and fleet, exuberant, elastic movement. Barylli’s tone evokes a well-tempered cat, a feline presence in the midst of bouncing or–in the case of the sweet Adagio--purring figures. At moments, especially after a long-held pause, we feel that the music might become Vivaldi. The Allegro assai finale exudes festivity in every bar, violin and orchestra in fluent harmony, plastic and joyful at once.
To quote Anne-Sophie Mutter once more: “This recording is a must for any string player and music lover.”