Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Sonata for flute, viola and harp (1915) [18:04]
Dances for harp and string orchestra (1904); Danse sacrée [4:56]: Danse profane [4:51]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Introduction and allegro for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet (1905) [10:38]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Flute sonata (1956) [12:32]
Trio for piano, oboe and bassoon (1926) [12:54]
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute): Pierre Pasquier (viola): Odette Le Dentu (harp)
Pierre Jamet (harp); Orchestre de la Société de Musique de Chambre de Paris/Pierre Capdevielle
Pierre Jamet (harp); Soloists de la Rediffussion Française
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute); Francis Poulenc (piano)
Francis Poulenc (piano); Pierre Pierlot (oboe); Maurice Allard (bassoon)
rec. 1952-59, Paris
The Ravel-Debussy coupling of LP days receives a makeover here. Once again Forgotten Records mines the back catalogue to compile an hour-plus programme that concentrates on French chamber and instrumental music recorded between 1952 and 1959. The twist is that, therefore, there are no quartets.
Debussy is represented by the Sonata for flute, viola and harp, played by an elite trio of players: Rampal, Pasquier, le Dentu. Despite the tendency of Parisian recording studios to be chilly, this is an atmospheric performance. The harpist is the least well-known but she keeps her well-known partners company, with Pierre Pasquier (of Pasquier Trio fame) adding timbral grit through his sophisticated bowing. There’s tremendous sweep to the Interlude but also a great deal of textual clarity: and with Rampal and Pasquier in full unison, it sounds like a quintet. For the Danse sacrée and Danse profane Pierre Jamet was accompanied capably by the Orchestre de la Société de Musique de Chambre de Paris, conducted by Pierre Capdevielle. Jamet is certainly more celebrated than Dentu, and is as much in command of the colour of the slow weave of the sacred as the flightier zest of the profane. When it comes to questions of disc rarity, what often matters is the more hard-to-find recording, and both these Debussy recordings were first issued on Ducretet-Thomson.
Jamet is soloist again, primus inter pares with some unidentified radio orchestra soloists, in the Ravel Introduction and Allegro. The elegant vivacity and precision of the French school is heard here. Rampal’s recording with the composer of Poulenc’s Flute Sonata came three years after its composition in 1956. Its confection of insinuating charm, chic, and elegy is always welcome, not least when Poulenc is at the piano. His dapper pianism spurs on Rampal to feats of acrobatic brilliance in the finale. I suspect, though, that Rampal’s recording of the work with Veyron-Lacroix may be the better known, in which case I urge admirers to hear this one. Poulenc first recorded his 1926 Trio for piano, oboe and bassoon in 1928. It was reissued by Pearl in 1988. For this 1959 LP remake he’s joined by Pierre Pierlot (oboe) and Maurice Allard (bassoon). These excellent chamber musicians made an excellent ensemble and they project the wan charm of the central slow movement with particular care.
This cleverly compiled and well transferred disc contains some important recordings and will appeal strongly to collectors.
Jonathan Woolf

Cleverly compiled and well transferred … some important recordings that will appeal strongly to collectors.