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Pierre Fournier - The Aristocrat Of Cellists

Pierre Fournier
Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 29539   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert SchumannJohannes BrahmsAntonín DvorákCamille Saint-Saëns,   ... 
Performer:  Pierre FournierDavid OistrakhJean HubeauBabeth Léonet,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm SargentAlceo GallieraRafael KubelikWalter Susskind,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraLamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Number of Discs: 7 
Recorded in: Mono 
Imported from : UNITED KINGDOM   
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Certainly the title is apt. Fournier was, indeed, an aristocrat among cellists, a musician of absolute refinement whose compelling intensity was derived through subtle increments, not ladled out by the yard. He has been the subject of a number of retrospectives and some important restorations. Many of the recordings included in this 7 CD Icon box will therefore be very familiar - I suppose the Brahms Double with Oistrakh is the most well known - but equally there are some surprises from amongst the discography and some interesting early recordings Read more made either pre-war or during the war itself that might have proved elusive. There are also competing recordings of the same piece - the most extensive is the Rococo Variations - which will allow one to appreciate a different performance, and pianist, and acoustic.
 
Fournier first recorded in 1937. His first major solo undertaking was the Arpeggione sonata with Jean Hubeau, included here, and his first major chamber undertaking the Fauré G minor Piano Quartet with Thibaud, Vieux and Marguerite Long. Readers may well have their own favourite studio or live recordings from his discography and they may, or may not, accord with the selection here. Remember that Fournier recorded for companies other than EMI as well. Major recordings of the Dvořák exist with other conductors - Szell for instance or Georges Sebastian (live) to cite just two. He left behind traversals of the Beethoven sonatas with Gulda and with Kempff, and the Brahms (neither sonata is in this set) with Firkušny.
 
I will just be skimming the surface in this review. Listening to these recordings again - or, in a few cases for the first time - reminds me forcefully just how subtle and refined a musician he was, and also how his performances could vary. The Dvořák is a case in point. Here with Kubelík we have what may seem, to some, to be a rather understated approach, lacking in externalised panache. It’s certainly different from the two other performances cited above. Nevertheless it convinces by virtue of its refined chamber intimacies, its tautly moving tempi and its rich sweep. The Schumann Concerto has a similar advantage in that Sargent is the accompanist and, as in the case of the Rococo variations that he also directs, we are assured of an articulate, structure-conscious reading of great imagination. The other Rococo Variations recording, by the way, is a wartime effort with Bigot which is a lot less tidy, if a bit faster. Of the Brahms Double there’s little reason to add more than what has already been noted about this illustrious meeting, presided over by the underrated Alceo Galliera.
 
An accompanist in many ways as fine as Sargent was Walter Susskind and he and Fournier play to each other’s strengths in the Saint-Saëns A minor. Kubelík is on hand again for the Haydn concerto in D, which performance comes in for some ribbing from annotator Tully Potter. This concerns the use of the Gevaert edition, though this was pretty standard in 1951 so I can’t feel too aggrieved about its use. This third disc sees a bonanza of pianist-accompanists - Hubeau in the Arpeggione, Babeth Léonet, and Jacques Février in the Poulenc sonata; the most recent recording, by the way, set down in 1971. The Paris recording of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke with Léonet is in rather rackety sound and it is quite some shock to jump from it to the Poulenc. This last catches perfectly the highly refined melancholy of the writing.
 
The Beethoven sonatas with Schnabel were recorded in 1947-48. At around the same time Szgeti, Primose, Fournier, and Schnabel gave concerts as a flexible ensemble, an association that was not unfortunately captured in the studios, but some fascinating material was recorded off-air - notably Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Op. 8 which has been issued on Arbiter 121. Stack this early post-war set of the Beethovens near the 1959 Gulda and on a par with the Kempff. Such is the artistry and unsentimental authority of the playing that one would simply not wish to do without this set. It’s an ensemble on all altogether different level of engagement to the mismatched Piatigorsky-Solomon duo recording of 1954.
 
The Fauré Piano Quartet can be found in the sixth disc. It’s always been my template. It sported France’s leading string players in Thibaud (ageing, it’s true, and soon to be superseded, if we must allow the quasi-sporting motif, by Francescatti and Neveu) and the magnificent Vieux. Marguerite Long anchors things superbly. There are thankfully quite a few morceaux and charming encore pieces. It would not be a fitting set without them. Some indeed can be heard in multiple performances. Let me note in passing the scuffily recorded but rhythmically charged Stravinsky Chanson russe with Tasso Janopoulo, Thibaud’s sometime accompanist. I suppose disc seven, recorded with Gerald Moore in 1957, reveals this kind of art in all its glory. One performance after another illustrates just why Fournier was so admired and loved as an artist. From the noble Bach Chorale Prelude realisations, through that bumblebee, to two pieces by Granados (one in Fournier’s arrangement, the other in Cassadó’s) everything is well nigh perfect.
 
A number of items in this set appeared in the 4 CD box called Les Introuvables de Pierre Fournier put out by French EMI [5 69708 2] - principally the Beethoven sonatas with Schnabel, the Schumann and Haydn concertos, Rococo variations, Arpeggione sonata, some Fauré items, the Lili Boulanger, and all of disc 7, though this last hasn’t undergone any subsequent transfer restoration so far as I can tell. There is a vast 18 CD Art of Pierre Fournier box, released in Japan [DG Japan POCC 9711-28 447665-2] that complements this EMI one, should Fournier be your ardent focus of desire.  
 
As for the engineering I do, where comparison exists, prefer the ‘Les Introuvables’ transfers which bear a degree more surface noise but are more aerated and open. It’s not a vast difference however. Given the cheapness of this set I wouldn’t want to put off anyone, who has yet to experience it, hearing Fournier across a wide spectrum of repertoire in performances as noble, selfless and wonderful as are these.
 
– Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Cello in A minor, Op. 129 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
2.
Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 "Double" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), David Oistrakh (Violin)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Austria 
3.
Concerto for Cello in B minor, Op. 104/B 191 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; USA 
4.
Concerto for Cello no 1 in A minor, Op. 33 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
5.
Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Conductor:  Eugčne Bigot
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
6.
Concerto for Cello no 2 in D major, Op. 101/H 7b no 2 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
7.
Sonata for Arpeggione in A minor, D 821 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Jean Hubeau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Phantasiestücke (3) for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Babeth Léonet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
9.
Sonata for Cello and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Jacques Février (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; France 
10.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in F major, Op. 5 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 5 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
12.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 3 in A major, Op. 69 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
13.
Pieces (12) for Piano 4 hands, Op. 85: Abendlied by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Tasso Janopoulo (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
14.
Songs (6), Op. 86: no 2, Feldeinsamkeit by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Marthe Pellas-Lenom (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1877-79; Austria 
15.
Melodies (2) for Piano, Op. 3: no 1 in F major by Anton Rubinstein
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852; Russia 
16.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 4 in C major, Op. 102 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 5 in D major, Op. 102 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Sonata for cello in C Major: Minuet by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Classical 
19.
Pieces (12) for Piano 4 hands, Op. 85: Abendlied by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
20.
Sonates progressives (6) for Violin and Piano: no 3 in D minor, J 101/Op. 10 no 3 - Rondo by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1810; Germany 
21.
Elégie for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
22.
Quartet for Piano and Strings no 2 in G minor, Op. 45 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Jacques Thibaud (Violin), Pierre Fournier (Cello), Marguerite Long (Piano),
Maurice Vieux (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1885-86; France 
23.
Romance for Cello and Piano, Op. 69 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Tasso Janopoulo (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
24.
Elégie for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
25.
Berceuse for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 16 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 
26.
Pičce en forme de Habańera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
27.
Ręverie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890; France 
28.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
29.
Shylock Suite, Op. 57: no 3, Nocturne by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Tasso Janopoulo (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; France 
30.
Mavra: Russian Song by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Tasso Janopoulo (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
31.
Deux Morceaux pour violon et piano: Nocturne by Lili Boulanger
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
32.
Introduction and Polonaise for Cello and Piano in C major, Op. 3 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Poland 
33.
Song without words for Cello and Piano in D major, Op. 109 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Written: 1845 
34.
Golden Cockerel: Hymn to the sun by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906-1907; Russia 
35.
Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 - Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
36.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
37.
Berceuse for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 16 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 
38.
Tonadillas en un estilo antiguo: no 9, La maja dolorosa I-III by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910-1911; Spain 
39.
La Gitana by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
40.
Papillon for Cello and Piano in A major, Op. 77 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
41.
Sicilienne for Cello and Piano, Op. 78 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; France 
42.
L'enfant prodigue: Prélude by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884/1908; France 
43.
Pičce en forme de Habańera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
44.
Orgelbüchlein: O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross, BWV 622 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1714-1717; Weimar, Germany 
45.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
46.
Orgelbüchlein: Ich ruf'zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1713-1717; Weimar, Germany 
47.
Orgelbüchlein: Nun komm'der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1713-1717; Weimar, Germany 
48.
Work(s) by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 

Sound Samples

Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129 (1997 Digital Remaster): I. Nicht zu schnell -
Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129 (1997 Digital Remaster): II. Langsam - Etwas lebhafter - Schneller (Cadenza: Fournier) -
Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129 (1997 Digital Remaster): III. Sehr lebhaft
4 Variations on a Rococo Theme in A major, Op.33 (2007 Digital Remaster)
Double Concerto in A minor Op. 102 (2006 Digital Remaster): I Allegro
Double Concerto in A minor Op. 102 (2006 Digital Remaster): II Andante
Double Concerto in A minor Op. 102 (2006 Digital Remaster): III Vivace non troppo
Cello Concerto in B minor B191 Op.104 (2007 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro
Cello Concerto in B minor B191 Op.104 (2007 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio ma non troppo
Cello Concerto in B minor B191 Op.104 (2007 Digital Remaster): III. Finale (Allegro moderato)
Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor, Op.33 (2007 Digital Remaster): Allegro non troppo
Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor, Op.33 (2007 Digital Remaster): Allegretto con moto
Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor, Op.33 (2007 Digital Remaster): Allegro non troppo
Variations On A Rococo Theme In A Major Op.33 (Remasterisé En 1997)

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