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Fête a la Française
The recorded legacy of Albert Wolff is one of the most sought-after by collectors. Of Dutch parentage, but born in Paris, Wolff was something of a polymath: pianist, organist, conductor, composer, and had a long career in recording studios beginning in 1920. His first recordings for Decca, starting in the summer of 1951, were a complete Carmen (with Suzanne Juyol), a Manon (with Janine Micheau) as well as several French orchestral suites and individual pieces. This collection includes Wolff’s much-praised versions of the Charpentier and Massenet picture-postcard suites as well as the thrilling music of Lalo’s Rédemption and the searing (and very rare) recordings of instrumental music from Massenet’s Werther. The mono versions of the Franck and Lalo pieces were never published, so those 1956 recordings had to wait nearly twenty years for their eventual (stereo) publication on the Decca ‘Eclipse’ imprint in August 1975.
“beautifully warm and clear orchestral sound … a most excellent recording” Gramophone Magazine (Liszt)
“played with finesse and recorded with clarity” Gramophone Magazine (Massenet)
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Franck: Orchestral Works
“What a good idea to gather together Barenboim's 1976 Franck recordings...Redemption is given a splendidly convincing performance, with brass antiphonies gloriously brought out, making one wonder at the work's relative neglect.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Jean Fournet in Prague
In the past century, Jean Fournet (1913–2008), a “gentle perfectionist”, as some of the critics characterised him, was one of the leading champions of French music throughout the world. In addition to heading globally renowned orchestras (director of the Opera-Comique in Paris, chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra), he also left a distinctive footprint in Prague, with the Czech Philharmonic in particular. He first appeared there as a guest at the Prague Spring festival in 1954, then in January 1961, and for the last time, at the age of 90 (!), in 2003. At the time of the Iron Curtain, Fournet represented for the Czech Philharmonic a rare and precious opportunity to enter the world of French music with the most competent guide there was.
During his visits to Prague between 1963 and 1967, he and the orchestra made the enchanting and highly acclaimed recordings presented on this CD: in their “Ančerl” period, the Czech Philharmonic naturally embraced Fournet’s refinement, sense of form and purity of colours. The precious recordings, newly remastered, are being released on a Supraphon CD for the very first time. Enchanting French flamboyance a la Jean Fournet.
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