The Great Clarinettist Louis Cahuzac – The Complete Danish studio recordings 1947-52, featuring never-released Brahms and Schumann
CD 1
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Clarinet Concerto in A major K622 (1791) [30:42]
Danish Radio Chamber Orchestra/Mogens Wöldike
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Clarinet Concerto Op.57 (1928) [24:06]
Royal Orchestra/John Frandsen
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasiestücke Op.73 (1849) [10:33]
CD 2
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Clarinet Quintet in A major K581 (1789) [26:47]
Koppel Quartet
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Clarinet Sonata in F minor Op.120/1 (1894) [20:08]
Louis CAHUZAC (1880-1960)
Cantilène [4:27]
Paul JEANJEAN (1874-1960)
Arabesques [4:01]
Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Sonatine for clarinet and piano H42 (1921-22) [5:55]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Canzonetta Op.19 [3:18]
Louis Cahuzac (clarinet)
Folmer Jensen (piano)
rec. 1947-52
DANACORD DACOCD 722-723 [65:11 + 65:39]
A long time ago Danacord released an LP dedicated to the art of the French clarinettist Louis Cahuzac. It was called a ‘Homage’ [Danacord 153] and subtitled ‘Two Immortal Performances’. The cover picture was the same as this CD from the company, only reversed, and the notes on pages two and three of the CD booklet are reprints of Robert Anthony Briggs’s originals. There has, however, been an update in the light of the extra material. No longer is it the case that the focus is Mozart and Nielsen. Now there are extra items and what exciting items they are; major unissued performances.
Cahuzac was famed for his Mozart. The Concerto is the famous 1952 Haydn Society LP with Mogens Wöldike and this classic can be heard in nice, forward sound without scuffing. The tone is very Gallic and the temper of the performance lovely throughout. Cahuzac’s aristocracy is devoid of sentimentality and show, but full of fluidity and finely centred subtly variegated tonal resources. It will not appeal to those brought up on Reginald Kell’s more overtly expressive performances, so rich in vibrato and candour, who may find it rather ‘straight’. A broad church can accommodate a variety of approaches from musicians of differing backgrounds and aesthetics. The same applies to the Quintet, too, with the Koppel Quartet, recorded in 1948 on 78s. This is another clear, pure and rather noble reading, exuding a degree of classical restraint.
Cahuzac’s recording of the Nielsen Concerto was made in 1947 with John Frandsen and The Royal Orchestra. This is another discographically important item not merely because it was the premiere recording but also because the ensemble balance is excellent, the percussion vivid, and the solo playing irreproachable in its technical eloquence. A major item is the unissued 1949 Brahms Sonata in F minor with Folmer Jensen. This 78 set is excellently played and the performance is convincing throughout except perhaps for some blustery playing by Jensen in the first movement. The piano sound is rather plummy but I hesitate to suggest that that’s why it wasn’t issued, as I’ve certainly heard plummier released records. >From the matrix numbers the Schumann Fantasiestücke were recorded straight after, and they too were unissued. So, unless there was an artistic veto, or there was a problem with the matrices, it’s one of those open-ended questions as to their non-appearance.
Fortunately the smaller pieces that make up the rest of the programme were released. Honegger’s Sonatine sees Cahuzac catching quite a lot of the music’s insouciance and wit, though the piano tone is again rather shallow – the Danish Columbia engineers certainly didn’t want to overpower Cahuzac and seem to have over-compensated in this respect. There’s wonderful virtuosity in Jeanjean’s capricious Arabesques and in Cahuzac’s own Cantilène, a lovely piece.
Cahuzac admirers can confidently add this twofer. There are gems here and long hidden rarities.
Jonathan Woolf
There are gems here and long hidden rarities.