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Jonathan Woolf
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Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466 (1785) [30:39]
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K488 (1786) [25:43]
Monique de La Bruchollerie (piano)
Pro Musica Orchestra Vienna/Heinrich Hollreiser
rec. 1955, Vienna

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466 (1785) [31:18]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Variations symphoniques (1885) [15:28]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43 (1934) [22:08]
Monique de La Bruchollerie (piano)
Orchestre Radio-Symphonique de Paris de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française/Jean Martinon
rec. 23 April 1959, live concert, Cologne
Orchestre de l’Association des Concerts Colonne/Jonel Perlea
rec. 1955, Paris (Rachmaninoff)

Monique de La Bruchollerie (1915-72) is admirably represented on these two discs. Born in Paris, and an eminent student of pedagogue Isidor Philipp, she was a distinguished prize-winner at the Paris Conservatoire, and then studied successively with Cortot, and Emil von Sauer. She first recorded in 1950 and made her American debut the following year. Managing to balance performing and teaching she was always admired and had fine students but her career was halted by a terrible car crash in Romania in 1966. She died six years later.

Although she had a wide repertoire she recorded far less often than an artist of her calibre deserved, though she was hardly unique in that respect. She performed some of the powerhouse concertos, including Brahms 2 and the Tchaikovsky – her 1952 Vienna recording of the latter is one of her better-known recordings and especially fine – as well as Rachmaninov’s Third, Beethoven’s Third, Fourth and Fifth, and several of Mozart’s concertos. Of course there were also many sonata performances. Not all were recorded however, and thus it’s valuable to have the opportunity to hear her in concertos - both commercial and off-air concerts - in these two CDs from Forgotten Records.

FR653 documents her Vienna studio recordings of 1955 with Heinrich Hollreiser, originally released on two Pantheon discs, but subsequently conjoined on a single 12” LP. The repertoire is Mozart, one of her great reportorial strengths. She had the great gift of balancing tonal refinement with expressive energy and K466 is a particularly successful example of her art in all its communicative confidence. Her poetic playing of the Romance is in no way compromised by the rococo sheen and the central section of the movement is notable for her strong, almost stormy passagework, and strong bass pointing. Similarly the finale is infused with strong dynamic verve. There is a live performance of this concerto on FR685, in which she’s accompanied by the Orchestre Radio-Symphonique de Paris de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française under Jean Martinon in Cologne four years later, in April 1959. The outlines of the performance are almost identical, the conception surely the pianist’s in both cases, but the recording quality differs. Orchestrally-speaking, the Pro Musica in Vienna sounds rather recessed in the balance, whereas the Paris orchestra is much more vividly recorded. That’s especially true of the winds, albeit there is a steelier quality to the live Cologne performance sound. FR 653 also reinstates the Pantheon K488, and despite the recessive orchestral sound – far too soft-grained, not least in the finale - there is plenty of subtle give-and-take between soloist and band, adroitly supervised by Hollreiser. Her poetically dynamic qualities are evident here once again, in a recording that demonstrates anew her considerable strengths as a Mozart stylist. Collectors will also know that Hollresier recorded a number of other Mozart concertos with Ingrid Haebler, for Vox.

FR685 includes, alongside the Martinon-directed Mozart, examples of her work on commercial disc with Jonel Perlea recorded in 1955 and issued on Pathé-Vox. The Frank Variations Symphoniques is played with considerable assurance as to its narrative direction but it’s the Rachmaninov Paganini Variations that really grabs one by the collar. This offers tangible evidence of why her Rach 3 was so admired – virtuosic, poetic, witty, full of rich personality and characterisation. Her left hand constantly animates, though she declines to indulge the music’s poetic recesses too overtly. With her piano centre-stage this is a commanding reading, splendidly transferred here.

Each booklet has a brief one-page biography of the pianist.

Both discs are complementary and admirers of the pianist will find them equally tempting. Indeed those yet to become acquainted with her art will, I think, find them musically stimulating, and exciting.

Jonathan Woolf



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