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Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op.10 No.1, J99 (1810) [8:04]
Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op.10 No.3, J101 (1810) [4:20]
Violin Sonata No. 5 in A major, Op.10 No.5, J103 (1810) [10:53]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op.75 (1885) [21:16]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Violin Sonata, Op.36 (1900) [20:57]
Brigitte Huyghues de Beaufond (violin)
Hélène Boschi (piano: Weber)
Varda Nishry (piano: Saint-Saëns, Pierné)
rec. 1959-60, live radio recordings (Weber) and 1957, live radio concert broadcasts (Saint-Saëns, Pierné)

Brigitte Huyghues de Beaufond (1922-2008) was a student of Jules Boucherit, whose class she entered in 1934, later learning much from Jacques Thibaud. Her debut came in the early War years, and she continued to work with prestigious conductors – Munch, Cluytens – as well as fine accompanists. She travelled widely, and was not dissuaded from flying – as others were – even by the deaths in plane crashes of her countrywoman Ginette Neveu in 1949 and indeed her mentor Thibaud a few years later. In his French-only booklet notes Alexis Galpérine outlines her many tours and accompanists, and some of her career highlights. It also draws attention to certain stylistic traits that remain definably Gallic.

She didn’t, so far as I know, make any commercial recordings so these radio broadcasts are all the more rewarding as examples of her artistry. The two French sonatas are balanced by the three little Weber sonatas in broadcasts dating from the years 1957-60.

The dry studio sound, a very characteristic Parisian phenomenon of the time, vests a rather fortepiano patina to Hélène Boschi’s piano and that’s not wholly inappropriate though it’s doubtful whether it’s intentional. The violinist is less bel canto in her approach than Ruggiero Ricci who had recorded all six of the sonatas the previous decade for Decca in a boxy-sounding 1954 sequence but her tone production is attractive and her bowing fluid. Being more direct and less overtly expressive can bring its own rewards. Like Schubert’s Sonatinas – or Sonatas – these little works pack in quite a lot and in the operatic insinuations of the Rondo of Op.10 No.3 we hear her astute judgement as to weight and colour. One advantage of her Op.10 No.5 is that she and Boschi play the repeats, as Ricci and Bussotti do not. There’s a witty, well characterised quality to this Weber playing.

She plays the two big sonatas with Varda Nishry. Her tempi for the Saint-Saëns approximate those habitually taken by Heifetz, at least as conveyed in his recordings from 1950 and 1967, which are very similar in all essential details. She is a touch more reflective and obviously less tensile. It would have been fascinating to have heard Thibaud’s interpretation, as this is one of the more important Gallic works that he didn’t record. She keeps the Adagio going at a good tempo, but it’s sympathetically phrased, whilst Nishry’s chording in the finale is fine, her tick-tocking accompaniment in the Allegro molto spurring on the violinist.

Given that the Pierné Sonata of 1900 was dedicated to Thibaud, it’s fascinating to hear one of his acolytes play it. The recorded sound here is a touch less clear than in the Saint-Saëns but this still-underplayed work is in fine hands. The performance has expressive breadth but is underpinned by a firm sense of direction, plenty of colour and a truly triumphant close. It’s a significantly tauter performance than that of a contemporary pairing such as Philippe Koch and Christian Ivaldi on Timpani (2C1110) whose more leisurely approach is equally valid but just a little less biting.

This is a most appealing disc, and shows how the Boucherit-Thibaud Gallic line continued into the 1950s and 1960s with fine players such as Brigitte Huyghues de Beaufond.

Jonathan Woolf



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