French Chamber Music (mostly!). Saint-Saëns, Chausson, D’Indy

Paul Bazelaire

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

Saint-Saëns: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 167

Herbert Tichman, Clarinet, 
Ruth Budnevich, Piano
Saëns: “Henry VIII” Ballet Suite
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!)

This entry was posted in Bazelaire, Chamber, Chausson, D'Indy, Munch, Orchestral, Phillip, Saint-Saëns. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to French Chamber Music (mostly!). Saint-Saëns, Chausson, D’Indy

  1. Benoît says:

    Thanks so much, Neal, for this French anthology. I am especially glad to come across this recording of D'Indy's violin sonata performed by Charles Bistesi. Bistesi was a pupil of César Thomson in Bruxelles, and remains famous for having been the 1st teacher of Christian Ferras in Nice. He may have done only one recording.

  2. Neal says:

    Thank you very much for the information on Bistesi! I will add this to the post, if you don't mind.Cheers!

  3. squirrel says:

    Wow, Neal, how you have outdone yourself here! This is another example of your offering recordings of such historical interest — and material scarcity — that makes your blog such a treasure. I know the names Bazelaire and Isidore Phillip from the books they edited, which I used in my early musical studies on cello and piano. I have absolutely no concept of them as performers, however, and I look forward to these transfers with great enthusiasm.Did you get the private message I sent you?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Neal: So great to have you back with your wonderful work! The past two blogs have been fascinating. I also much enjoy the Czech anthology that you did a while back. You once promised us the Wuhrer recording of Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. Is that still in the offing? I would love to hear that and his recording of the "Emperor" concerto.Best wishes to you,Paul

  5. Neal says:

    Thanks Paul, glad you've enjoyed these. Yes, I'm definitely planning on that Wuhrer Brahms, which may not be quite as good a copy as the previous Wuhrer offerings. It's difficult deciding what to work on right now, but FINALLY, I have some more time on my hands! Right now, I'm redoing an old transfer, posted back when I was only doing mp3….the Ottakar Jermias Ma Vlast. But I have so many things I want to get to, including many new items from a whole week of dubs I made in August, and then the various things I've promised…but the pace will definitely pick up now!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, these are glorious fun. (I nearly laughed myself silly over the "Henry VIII" ballet music.) Your blog is a treasure!

  7. Neal says:

    I just talked to Ward Marston tonight, and he has a copy of the Bazelaire/Philipp Saint-Saens 1st Sonata, and is going to make me a dub for eventual posting here! Thanks Ward!

  8. Arnold says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Montana

  9. Pingback: Paul Bazelaire, Isidore Philipp. Saint-Saëns Cello Sonata No. 1 | Neal's Historical Recordings

  10. geofflebowski says:

    I am delighted to see that you are resuming your work on archive material.
    The new layout is splendid.
    Many thanks for your enthusiasm and skills in producing these files.

  11. deelight says:

    The Tichman clarinet piece is wonderful – another era – it inspired my young daughter to download the music and follow the score with a view to playing it.

    Thanks – and MORE clarinet pieces much appreciated..



  12. 2ndviolinist says:

    Thanks, Neal. It’s people like you who are bringing back to life these older recordings that give us a glimpse into a lost, wonderful world of music making. All these efforts keep me looking and listening for new and wonderful recordings they could’ve been lost.

  13. Mike Harkin says:

    SOOOO glad you got the Chausson/d’Indy back — was afraid the Copyright Gestapo would scotch
    any chance of hearing them. When I first saw them on your blog I didn’t know how to d/l, had to ask
    a friend. Learned how, found out my laptop didn’t unzip rar. Found a way to do that, now I’m in
    hawg hevvin catching up! Illegitimi non carborundum. You’ll find a way….


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