This post is a grab bag of sorts, with a couple of old recordings I’ve revisited, and several that are new offerings. It started out as a French chamber music compilation, but a couple of orchestral items are along for no particular reason.
I posted this recording of the Chausson Quartet several years ago when I was only uploading in mp3 format, but decided I wanted to do it over, with improved side joins. The recording itself is a bit distant and the piano often blasts, but it’s a pleasing sonic perspective on a very stylish reading, which doesn’t ask Chausson’s work to stand up to the heaviness that is more commonly applied to it. This is the Quartet’s first recording, and it remains a somewhat neglected work.
I was not familiar with the D’Indy Violin Sonata, but it’s an attractive work, somewhat pastoral in nature. It does go on a bit, but I find it has a few more surprises as it goes along to the intriguing final two movements. Thanks to Benoît (in his comment below), I can tell you a bit about Bistesi. He was a pupil of César Thomson in Bruxelles, and remains famous for having been the 1st teacher of Christian Ferras in Nice. This may have been his only recording. I find that he plays with more that a touch of Jacques Thibaud to his style, especially evidenced in some of his upward slides, which have a similar type of “drag” of a whole step or so on the way to the destination. I think both players make a very good case for the work, but it must be said, there are more than a few passages of untidy execution and ensemble, to go along with some very beautiful moments. A score of the work may be downloaded here. Sharp eyes and ears will notice that at the end of one of the 78 sides, the engineers missed the last note (at the end of the first side of 2nd movement at the 3:10 mark). I couldn’t do much to bridge that gap!
The Saint-Saëns 1st Violin Sonata is certainly closer to being mainstream repertory, and many will have heard Jascha Heifetz’ high-powered recording. Pascal and Philipp are definitely more laid-back in this reading, but it’s an attractive approach. Isidore Philipp (1863-1958) is an important figure, and was a pupil of Saint-Saëns, but was perhaps past his prime by the time he made recordings. Along with the evidence of his thorough knowledge of the style, is a certain heaviness of execution, and couple of good clinkers that might have elicited a “merde” or two if the microphone had been in a more “Gouldian” position! Certainly this is much more successful than the disastrous Mozart 19th Concerto movement that Vox unearthed for their 50 Years of Vox Recordings Cd issue!
Philipp is in better form on the Cello Sonata recording, in my opinion. These same artists recorded the 1st Cello Sonata, but I don’t have access to that recording. The Sonata included here was only excerpted, and these movements are presented as in the original issue, in reverse score order. Paul Bazelaire (see here and here) did not make many recordings, so it’s valuable to have this souvenir from one of Pierre Fournier’s teachers, no less! I think it’s beautiful playing by any standard!
I thought I would offer the CHS Lp of the Clarinet Sonata & Henry VIII Suite that I had presented back in my “Mp3” days, along with the Munch Danse macabre, which doesn’t really fit here, but it’s a great record which should be better known! A fellow enthusiast, at this wonderful blog, has also presented the same recording in a very fine transfer, but here is mine, for what it’s worth.
Thanks go again to my friend Mike Gartz, for providing the many rare 78 rpm copies presented here!
Chausson: Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 30
Fauré: Berçeuse (filler for the set)
Yvonne Levy, piano, Edmond Bastide, Violin
Sigismond Jarecki, Viola, Fernand Lemaire, Cello
Tri-Ergon 10301/5 (matr. 4740/8; 4829)
Recorded c. 1932
D’Indy: Violin Sonata in C major, op. 59
Charles Bistesi, violin, Andrée Vidal, piano
Voix de son maître L 1069/72 (mat. 2LA 2231/38)
Recorded November 26, 1937 & May 13 & 17, 1938
Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor, op. 75
André Pascal, violin, Isidore Philipp, piano
Pathé PAT15/17 (Am. Columbia M 471)
(matr. CPTX 73/77; 80/81)
Recorded June 28, 1934
Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Major, Op. 123,
Scherzo and Romanza only (mvts. 3 and 2)
Paul Bazelaire, cello, Isidore Philipp, piano
Pathé PAT PAT 92/3 (Am. Columbia MX 119)
(matr. CPTX 323/26)
Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre
Charles Munch, conductor
Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
Decca K 2069 (matr. HAR 51/52)
Recorded September 15, 1948
Herbert Tichman, Clarinet,
Ruth Budnevich, Piano
Saint-Saëns: “Henry VIII” Ballet Suite
Saint-Saëns: Marche Militaire Francaise (from Suite Algerienne, Op. 60)
Henk Spruit, conductor Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
CHS Release G-18
A mp3 (sorry, no Flac of the other items!) version of the CHS lp can be downloaded from this older upload of mine which also includes these recordings:
Reger: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major, Op. 146
Georges Coutelen, Clarinet
The Winterthur String Quartet
CHS Release H-7
Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre
Mussorgsky: A Night on Bald Mountain
Franz Andre, conductor
INR Symphony, Brussels
Capitol Telefunken H-3169 (10″ LP) (a not so hot copy!)