BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (recorded May 6, 1943).
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
(recorded October 27, 1940)
Guila Bustabo, violin/Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg, cond. 
ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS "The Mengelberg Edition -- Volume 11"

This is a valuable CD restoring to the catalog two masterful historic performances, previously issued on a Japanese King CD (KICC 2060), long unavailable. Mengelberg's commercial concerto recordings are limited.  All that exist are Bach's Double Concerto (with violinists Louis Zimmerman and Ferdinand Helmann) recorded for Columbia in 1935, and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Conrad Hanson, pianist and the Berlin Philharmonic) recorded for Telefunken in 1940.  Fortunately there are a number of live recordings of concerted works. Aside from the two performances on this new CD, we have:

Bach: Concerto No. 5, BWV 1067 (with Agi Jambor) recorded April 17, 1939 
J. C. Bach: Concerto in B Flat, Op. 13 No. 4 (with Marinus Flipse) recorded March 21, 1943 
Bartok: Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Zoltan Szekely) recorded November 23, 1939 (world premiere)
Bloch: Violin Concerto (with Joseph Szigeti) recorded November 9,1939
Brahms: Violin Concerto  (with Hermann Krebbers) recorded April 13, 1943
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Theo van der Pas) recorded April 9, 1943 
Debussy: Fantasie (with Walter Gieseking) recorded October 6, 1938
Dvorak: Cello Concerto (with Maurice Gendron) recorded January 16, 1944 (Paris Radio Orchestra) 
Dvorak: Violin Concerto (with Maria Neuss) recorded March 25, 1943 
Franck: Symphonic Variations (with Walter Gieseking) recorded October 13, 1940 
Hindemith: Violin Concerto (with Ferdinand Helmann) recorded March 14, 1940 (world premiere)
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Marinus Flipse) recorded February 27, 1944
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Walter Gieseking) recorded October 31, 1940 
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Walter Gieseking) recorded March 28, 1940.
Schubert: "Arpeggione" Sonata (with Gaspar cassado) recorded December 12, 1940
Schumann: Piano Concerto (with Emil von Sauer) recorded October 10, 1940.

Guila Bustabo was born in Manitowac, Wisconsin February 25, 1919 of Czech and Italian parents who recognized her enormous talent. She studied at the Chicago Musical College and gave her first concert at the age of 4. When 10 she appeared with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Society playing a Wieniawski concerto. She toured extensively in Europe, studying with Jeno Hubay, and in 1935 started to record for Columbia. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari wrote a violin concerto for her which she premiered with Oswald Kabasta and the Munich Philharmonic in 1944 (just two years before this fine conductor committed suicide from repercussions about his Nazi affiliations) and later played the concerto in Paris with Mengelberg conducting. Bustabo was very popular in Holland performing often with Mengelberg. Like her mentor, she was criticized for performing in Germany and occupied Europe. She continued to perform in the United States, later turning to a successful career as a teacher. The new CD contains three photos of Bustabo taken when she performed the Tchaikovsky concerto with Mengelberg in The Hague October 20, 1940, a week before the performance of the Bruch on this CD.

Bustabo was a superb technician, with tasteful use of portamento. This is grand performance of the Beethoven; it seems to have been the fashion of the day for the audience to applaud between movements, which they do extensively after the first movement. About 11 minutes into the Larghetto there is a loud crash sounding perhaps like a big chair falling over, but the performance continues. On this CD the third movement is tracked improperly; instead of having the track for the third movement begin where it should, it begins about two minutes later at the point when the opening bars of the third movement are repeated. The Bruch concerto is given a passionate performance of high intensity; the second movement is particularly fine. The soft first two bars of this concerto are missing as they were in the previous CD issue. Sound quality is as good as could be expected from radio broadcasts of the time, and highly serviceable, with satisfactory balances. Highly recommended for those interested in historic performances.

 R.E.B. (Sept. 1999)