As pure as crystal, Zino Francescatti's luminous sonority seems to have been made for Mozart.
The biography is misleading. Zino hides his real first name, René-Charles, too formal for a child. In the same way, his places of birth and death (Marseilles in 1902 – La Ciotat in 1991) might make one believe that Zino Francescatti never left Provence, whereas he settled for a time in the United States in 1939 and lived on both continents. For the rest, Zino Francescatti is truly a great violinist, who was immersed in music from birth (his father was a solo violin at the Marseilles Opera), who played the Beethoven Violin Concerto at the age of ten and recorded his first records at the age of twenty…
But it is in Mozart and his Fourth Concerto, with the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire headed by Jerzy Semkov, that he does wonders, filmed in 1967 in Aix en Provence. His "luminous" sound, as Ivry Gitlis says when talking of his fellow musician, seems destined for this crystal pure music.
Much sought-after as a teacher, Francescatti continues to teach for nothing after retiring from concert playing, before founding in 1987 an international competition he finances by selling one of his Stradivariuses, the Hart 1727. With him the students come to draw on a real tradition of French music, nourished by a genuine enjoyment in playing, something Francescatti undoubtedly learnt from Ravel himself during a memorable tour in 1926 that was to seal their friendship.
It was then in the beginning of the thirties that the duo he formed with Robert Casadesus was born. Exceptional heralds of French music, as a duo Francescatti and Casadesus also defend with honour the complete Beethoven Sonatas. The violinist also performs Beethoven's Romances in G Major and F Major with Piano, recorded during the Bordeaux Festival in 1961, not in the company of his loyal companion this time, but with Eugenio Bagnoli on the piano. Then he enchants us with small pieces that crackle under his fingers, Lamento e moto perpetuo by Smazeuilh and La Ronde des lutins by Bazzini.
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Menuhin in his intimacy