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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello in D major K285 (1775) [11:31]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
String Trio, Op.9 No.3 in C minor (1798) [22:27]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Piano Quartet No.1, Op.15 (1876-79) [30:51]
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute)
Monique Mercier (piano)
Trio Pasquier
rec. live radio broadcasts, Paris, November 1956 (Mozart), December 1961 (Beethoven) and November 1962 (Fauré)

Forgotten Records continues to have access to French radio broadcast performances and, to our benefit, to issue them. This disc is one of a number to feature that most eminent of Gallic string trios, the Pasquier, whose recordings stretched back to the days of 78s.

The first broadcast comes from November 1956 and features Jean-Pierre Rampal in Mozart’s K285 Quartet for flute and strings. This was just after Rampal had made a wonderful commercial recording of Roussel’s Trio with Pierre and Etienne Pasquier. Rapport is a given in the Mozart, which is full of avuncular charm, precision of articulation and warmth of string tone. The supportive pizzicati in the central movement are perfectly timed, offering Rampal a cushion for his rich cantilena. There are some surprisingly tired-sounding moments from Jean Pasquier in the finale but the music is vital and energetic and is greeted with avid applause. The recording is of fine quality, though there is some rumble.

The Pasquier are on their own for Beethoven’s Op.9 No.3 trio, which dates from December 1961. There is plenty of expressive playing here, and the con espressione moments of the slow movement are expansively voiced, the vocalised coloratura evoked by Jean being especially noteworthy. Then, too, the deft interchanges in the finale exemplify one of this ensemble’s greatest strengths – deft articulation. Only a few tape thumps intrude on the listening pleasure.

The following year the trio teamed up with Monique Mercier for Fauré’s Piano Quartet No.1. Six years earlier the trio had recorded this in Paris with the venerable matriarch of French pianism, Marguerite Long. Then 80, Long sometimes struggled with passagework rapidity and ensemble was shaky, though no one surely would have preferred to go without her contribution. Mercier is a more self-effacing pianist but she creates a more credible balance and is technically more proficient than Long. I suspect tempo matters were left in the hands of the trio and that Mercier accommodated herself to their dictates, as tempi and tempo relationships are very similar indeed to the Long LP recording. Less doctrinaire and more accommodating this Mercier performance is not inferior to the famous disc. Highlights include a delectably succulent B section in the Scherzo, the beautiful string tone enshrined in the Adagio – with well calibrated dynamics – and the youthful brio of the finale which, once again (and rightly), is greeted by applause.

Forgotten Records generally doesn’t produce notes – and there are none here - so you will be going by the personnel and the repertory, though there are some web links on the back of the jewel case. But for those attuned to Gallic sensibilities in this music, this is a most pleasurable restoration.

Jonathan Woolf

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