Jean ROGER-DUCASSE (1873-1954)
Piano Quartet (1899-1912) [36:28]
Maurice JAUBERT (1900-1940)
Trio italien, Op.54 (c.1937) [17:08]
Trio Pasquier
Jean Doyen (piano)
rec. live radio broadcast February 1955 (Roger-Ducasse), June 1960 (Jaubert)

Not only has Forgotten Records skillfully selected from the Pasquier Trio’s back catalogue of LP performances—the group of course recorded prolifically on 78s as well—but it has acquired rights to issue radio performances given by the eminent trio. In this case, it has conjoined the big Piano Quartet of Roger-Ducasse with the more compact and much more light-hearted Trio of Maurice Jaubert. It makes for contrasting and enjoyable programming.

Roger-Ducasse’s work occupied him from 1899 to 1912 and was dedicated to the Grande Dame of French pianism, Marguerite Long. As so often the Pasquier, who recorded Fauré with Long, turned to a new generation of French pianists, and specifically one to whom they often turned was the redoubtable Jean Doyen. Doyen was a sympathetic chamber partner, attuned to the Gallic muse, or muses, and a technician on par with the three string players.

This 1955 radio broadcast has the defect of being boxy, so I suggest a treble boost and equalizing the sound in some way to compensate for the somewhat watery piano spectrum. The Quartet was performed, presumably, as a tribute to the composer who had died the previous year and the serious-minded power generated by the Pasquier allied to the powerful pianism ensures a performance of tremendous stylistic and timbral insight. The beautifully spun string line over supportive piano in the Andantino is full of Elysian hues, whilst expressive depth is reserved for the long-limbed Adagio—Molto Adagio to be precise. It’s here that one can best hear Etienne Pasquier’s command of threnodic legato, his sorrowing cello balanced by the sustaining lyricism of Jean and Pierre before the music turns increasingly torrid. The way the dynamism of the finale banishes all care cannot be bettered.

Jaubert’s delightful Trio italien was recorded five years later and is in much better sound. It had been premiered by the Pasquier Trio back in April 1937, so who better to reprise it 23 years later than this elite group. Jaubert’s crafty opus sports a rather Iberian-sounding Sicilienne and a spare and compelling Sarabande that incrementally generates more and more sonority. The sprit and zest of the Sérénade and Saltarelle are accomplished with the maximum of Gallic style. This infectious performance comes stamped with brio.

If you want a representative live performance from the Pasquiers this could be it. Prepare for the boxiness of the 1955 broadcast and you’ll be rewarded with a splendid performance. Add the delicious Jaubert and you’ll have just two reasons to admire the Pasquier Trio.

Jonathan Woolf