The big LP labels in the 1950s had their elite soloists on whom
to draw for these works; Oistrakh, Fournier, Knushevitzky and
Oborin are four of the biggest names, still resonant, still
frequently reissued, who essayed either or both of these works
for EMI. But what if you were a director at Ducretet-Thomson
in Paris? You could hardly call on Oistrakh, or Stern, or Rostropovich.
Thus they called on the home roster of young and aspiring and
as yet little known musicians. Indeed they are still little
known. Violinist Devy Erlih, cellist Guy Fallot and his sister,
pianist Monique Fallot are the unsung heroes of this disc, joined
by the rather better known Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
under conductor Ernest Bour. At almost the same time that EMI
was recording Oistrakh and his colleagues, Erlih and his colleagues
were recording the same works for the local French label.
I’ve written quite a lot about Erlih, whose recent death
has not, as yet, made much of a mark. Fortunately, Forgotten
Records had been releasing some of his none-too-extensive legacy
well before that event, and one can draw on their intelligently
chosen programme of reissues. Guy Fallot is less well known
than Erlih. He was born in Nancy in 1927, studied in Lausanne,
later taking the distinguished first prize in Paul Bazelaire’s
class in Paris in 1946. He taught in Lausanne and Geneva. His
chamber partner in the 1950s was his sister, though in later
years he paired up with Rita Possa. He made a disc of Jindřich
Feld’s Concerto and as late as 2008 was recording the
Brahms sonatas. As far as I know he is still alive.
The Brahms Double sees the two string soloists forwardly balanced.
Both are direct players, Fallot the gruffer toned. The music
is cannily negotiated by Bour, and whilst the results are neither
as visceral nor as intense as others (Stern/Rose, Heifetz/Feuermann)
it’s well gauged expressively. The quicksilver passagework
of the finale is brought out by Erlih, in particular, and so
too moments that sound positively Dvořákian from
the orchestral perspective; the work must have left a real impression
on the Bohemian composer.
The Beethoven Triple Concerto, with the addition of Monique
Fallot, is another cogent, though perhaps rather less consistently
good recording. Again Bour provides a fine framework and the
orchestra supports well. The trio performs with commendable
and collegiate spirit, and there’s a chamber give and
take about things that contrasts with more big-boned performances
on disc. Once again the soloists are quite upfront.
I’m not aware that these two performances have been commercially
available since they were deleted on LP.
Masterwork Index: Beethoven
triple concerto ~~ Brahms