Emma Boynet - The Complete Solo 78rpm Recordings & Faure LPs
Parisian, Emma Boynet (1891–1974) studied with Isidor Philipp at the Conservatoire and became an established part of the local music scene in the 1920s and 30s. She was one of the few French pianists to find success in the USA, travelling there for the first time in the company of her former teacher in 1934, and as a result, made several albums for Victor in New York, including a five-disc 78rpm album entitled ‘French Piano Music’. Her career seems to have faltered in the 1950s but not before she made two highly regarded (but now rare) Faure LPs which have become collectors’ items. We are delighted to reissue them here.
I had never heard of the French pianist Emma Boynet (1891-1974) before this remarkable release came to my attention and hooked me for life. Boynet studied with the legendary Isidor Philipp, with whom she remained associated throughout his long life. During the 1930s and ’40s Boynet made frequent concert and radio appearances in the United States, yet kept a low profile in her final decade. More importantly, she made extraordinary recordings. APR has reissued on two generously filled CDs all of Boynet’s solo 78s, together with the contents of two all-Fauré LPs recorded for Vox in 1950 and 1952.
If Boynet had left us nothing else, the sheer insouciance and effortless mastery of her 1932 Pathé Weber Rondo brillante (sound clip) assures her legendary status, although her sultry Falla Andaluza is nothing to sneeze at. She takes Schubert’s G-flat Impromptu at an appropriately alla breve tempo. True, she dashes through the Rondo finale of Haydn’s two-movement C major sonata like a bat out of hell, yet what staggering control and timing!
Apparently all of the selections in Boynet’s 1938 RCA Victor French Music Anthology were first takes, including an audaciously winged and imaginatively phrased Chabrier Bourrée fantasque that makes everyone else’s sound thick and clumsy. Naturally she plays Philipp’s charming Nocturne and scintillating Feux-follets with total affection and style. Boynet subjects Debussy’s Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir from Preludes Book I to capricious tempo shifts, and arpeggiates chords at random; it’s a curious reading that doesn’t convince. However, Boynet and Fauré merge as one.
She understands and internalizes the composer’s textural transparency and intricately wrought counterpoint, while projecting the melodies so that they move over the bar lines. As a result, some listeners may feel that her animation in the Fifth and Sixth Barcarolles borders on impatience, a factor arguably mitigated by the Vox LPs’ dry sonics and less-than resplendent concert grand. On the other hand, her Vox Fourth Nocturne is smoother and more lyrically unfolding than in her earlier 78 rpm version. And Boynet’s spacious, poetic Vox accounts of the great Sixth and Seventh Nocturnes count among the Fauré piano discography’s treasures.
Frédéric Gaussin’s extensive annotations are as scholarly and informative as one could wish, not to mention Mark Obert-Thorn’s world-class transfers. In all, a significant addition to APR’s ongoing French Piano School reissues, and an absolute must for pianophiles.
-- ClassicsToday.com (Jed Distler)
Release Date: February 05, 2021
Catalog Number: APR6033
Label: APR Recordings
Number of Discs: 2
Composer: Carl Maria von Weber, Claude Debussy, Déodat de Séverac, Emmanuel Chabrier, Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Gabriel Fauré, Gabriel Pierné, Isidore Philipp, Jacques Ibert, Johann Sebastian Bach, Manuel de Falla
Performer: Emma Boynet