Marguerite Long, Vol. 1 - Fauré, d'Indy
Long’s 1940 recording with Jacques Thibaud, Maurice Vieux and Pierre Fournier is matchless in terms of ardor and urgency, one of the major chamber music recordings of the era.
Undoubtedly the foremost French female pianist of the 20th century, Marguerite Long (1874–1966) prided herself on her personal friendships with some of the foremost composers of her day – Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. She championed their works, premiering, amongst other things, Ravel’s G major piano concerto, and was to write books on the interpretation of each of them. This addition to our continuing French Piano School series is the first of two APR volumes, together containing her complete recordings of French repertoire, and of honorary Frenchman, Chopin.
French music scholar Roger Nichols does the honors in the booklet essay, with laudable impartiality, for the first volume in APR’s ‘The French Piano School’ series focusing on the legendary pianist and teacher Maguerite Long. This collection is mostly devoted to music by Gabriel Fauré, including the exquisite Nocturne No 6 in D flat major, of which Long herself writes: ‘[Fauré] slides imperceptibly from one key to another through nuances of colour that an impressionist painter would envy.’
Long played the Sixth Barcarolle to Fauré himself, and two recordings of the piece are included as part of APR’s program, the earliest and gentler of the two from 1937, the more emphatic version dating from 20 years later. Likewise in the case of two versions of the Second Impromptu, this time from 1933 and 1957 again, though miraculously there’s very little to choose between them. Two versions of the Ballade in its orchestrated version vary principally in the way they’re recorded, in a relatively dry acoustic for the 1930 recording (under Philippe Gaubert), then with greater warmth 20 years later, where between them André Cluytens and Long stretch the timing by roughly a minute. Still, the crystalline tone of the earlier version holds a special appeal.
Then there are the two piano quartets, Op 15 in C minor with the Pasquier Trio, recorded in 1956, nimble and sensitive, though my own preference would be for the sweeter, edgier version by Robert Casadesus and members of the Calvet Quartet in 1935 (currently out on Scribendum). Turn then to the more tragic Op 45 in G minor, and Long’s 1940 recording with Jacques Thibaud, Maurice Vieux and Pierre Fournier is matchless in terms of ardor and urgency, one of the major chamber music recordings of the era.
Also included is Vincent d’Indy’s colorful Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français (Symphonie cévenole), brilliantly played by Long and expertly conducted by Paul Paray in 1934 – fine sounding, too, given its age. A truly excellent release, superbly transferred.
Release Date: March 18, 2022
Catalog Number: APR6038
Label: APR Recordings
Number of Discs: 2
Composer: Gabriel Fauré, Vincent d'Indy
Performer: Marguerite Long