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Susanne Lautenbacher studied violin with Karl Freund in Munich, then privately with Henryk Szeryng, and became strongly associated with the first-fruits of the post-World War II early music movement. This reputation hardly prepares one for the outstanding tonal expression, delivery and pacing of Lautenbacher’s twentieth-century repertoire. Weill’s Violin Concerto (1991) is well-enunciated and driven, the biting irony of Weill’s textures being conveyed in a spare, dry sound. The Hartmann performance here is equally effective in its quasi-Stravinskian Neo-Classical overtones.

In her 1972 Brahms Concerto Lautenbacher appears to follow Joachim’s edition and we hear influences from Szeryng and the Joachim–Auer line. Some nineteenth-century subtleties—particularly, vocal differentiation between passagework and melody—are lost, however.

Her 1962 recording of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas is well known amongst aficionados of so-called authentic performance. In fact Lautenbacher uses a modern violin setup and, as with Melkus, the historicism scarcely goes deeper than simply playing relatively arcane repertoire with supporting period instruments. Taking Sonata No. 2 as an example we hear a clean, direct, if rather gritty sound, with vibrato present but reined-in. The vibrato is not unusual in this phase of period performance—Robert Donington’s article in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980) reveals that even scholars assumed some form of vibrato to be a permeating characteristic of eighteenth-century style. The recording would not qualify today as in substantially historically-informed, but at the time the incorporation of early instruments and such traits as upper-note trills counted as Baroque style, as did the implacable retention of stable tempi.

Locatelli’s Concerto No. 1 from L’arte del violino (1957) is comparable. Here the orchestral style is more or less modern, apart from some little swells on longer notes and the presence, of course, of a harpsichord. The cadenza is well-articulated and there are some very neat up-bow staccatos in the finale; otherwise, Lautenbacher’s vibrato, her rather metallic tone, and periodic forays into a quasi-Heifetz sound (going high on lower strings and executing modern portamenti) all reflect the usual practices of her time, toned down to respect the antiquity of the repertoire, rather than a true historical approach. She tackles this music courageously, only failing on occasion to pull off Locatelli’s challenging high-register writing. Such issues also affect Lautenbacher’s otherwise creditable Quattro stagione from 1966.

Although Lautenbacher’s recordings of early repertoire from the 1950s and 1960s are vital historic documents, it is the modern works that are most convincing.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BACH, J.S.: Cantatas, BWV 80, 202-204, 209, 211-212 (Buckel, Ocker, Speiser, Schaible, Ewerhart, Rilling) Vox Box
BACH, J.S.: Overtures (Suites) Nos. 1-4 / Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-6 / Violin Concertos, BWV 1041-1042 (Kehr, Faerber) Vox Box
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Chamber and Orchestral Music (Beethoven Blockbusters) (Brendel, Rosand, Schuster, Lautenbacher, Reichert, Remoortel) Allegretto
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Violin Concerto, Op. 61 / Romances Nos. 1 and 2 (Lautenbacher, Westphalian Symphony, Reichert) Allegretto
Orchestral, Concerto
BIBER, H.I.F. von: Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas Nos. 1-15 (Lautenbacher, Ewerhart, J. Koch) Vox Box
Chamber Music, Instrumental
BOISMORTIER, J.B. de: Bassoon Concerto, Op. 21 / COUPERIN, F.: Concerto for 2 Bassoons (Zukerman, Gode, Faerber) Turnabout
Chamber Music
BRAHMS, J.: Violin Concerto, Op. 77 (Lautenbacher, Innsbruck Symphony, R. Wagner) Allegretto
HAYDN, J.: Concertos for 2 Lire organizzate / Lute Sonata a 3, Hob.IV:F2 / Cassation, Hob.III:6 (Ruf, Schaffer) Turnabout
HAYDN, J.: Symphonies / Concertos (South West German Radio Symphony, Baden-Baden, Rosbaud) SWR Classic
HUMMEL, J.N.: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Concerto for Piano and Violin, Op. 17 / Mandolin Concerto, S28 (Galling, Lautenbacher, Bauer-Slais) Turnabout
LOCATELLI, P.A.: Violin Concertos, Op. 3, Nos. 1-6 (The Art of the Violin, Vol. 1) (Lautenbacher, Mainz Chamber Orchestra, Kehr) Vox Box
LOCATELLI, P.A.: Violin Concertos, Op. 3, Nos. 7-12 (The Art of the Violin, Vol. 2) (Lautenbacher, Mainz Chamber Orchestra, Kehr) Vox Box
MOZART, W.A.: Sampler Series - More Magic of Mozart (Lautenbacher, Rilling, Kehr, Grossmann, R. Johnson, Tatrai, Angerer, Horenstein, Bottcher) Allegretto
Orchestral Music (French) - BERLIOZ, H. / MASSENET, J. / FAURÉ, G. / LALO, É / CHABRIER, E. (Cao, Françaix, Froment, Kapp) Vox Box
ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO ANTHOLOGY (THE), Vol. 1 (Blumental, Galling, Toperczer, R. Keller, Akiko Sagara, Littauer, H. Kann, Ponti, Kyriakou) Vox
SCHUBERT, F.: Chamber Music - Violin Sonata, Op. 137, No. 1 / String Trio, D. 581 / Fantasy, D. 934 / Rondo brillant (Pauk, Frankl, Lautenbacher) Vox Box
Chamber Music, Concerto
SCHUMANN, R.: Works for Solo Instrument and Orchestra (Complete) (Frankl, Lautenbacher, Ricci, Varga, Furst, Cao) Vox Box
TELEMANN, G.P.: Overtures - TWV 55:D6, 55:F11 / Concertos, TWV 51:G9, TWV 55:F1 (Wallfisch, Koch, Faerber, Lautenbacher, Kehr) Turnabout
Violin Music - LALO, É. / BACH, J.S. / BEETHOVEN, L. van / SAINT-SAËNS, C. (Spotlight on Violin) (Rosand, R. Ricci, Gitlis, Lautenbacher, Vorholz) Allegretto
Violin Music (German) - PFITZNER, H. / HARTMANN, K.A. / ZIMMERMANN, B.A. (Lautenbacher, Faerber, Köhler, Wich) Vox Box
VIVALDI, A.: 4 Seasons (The) / Violin Concerto in E-Flat Major / Concerto for 4 Violins in B Minor (Lautenbacher) Allegretto
WEILL, K.: Kleine Dreigroschenmusik / Quodlibet Suite / Mahagonny Songspiel / Violin Concerto, Op. 12 (The Berlin Project) (Landau, Foss, Detmold) Vox Box
WORLD'S MOST BELOVED MELODIES (THE) (Lautenbacher, Hans Hagen Orchestra, Kehr) Allegretto
Concerto, Chamber Music

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