C0012. JEAN FOURNET Cond. National Orchestra and Choir of the ORTF; Jeanne Baudry-Godard (Organ), Bernard Demigny, Christiane Eda-Pierre, Rémy Corazza & Bernard Kruysen: REQUIEM; VEZELAY (both Inghelbrecht). (France) André Charlin AMS 88, recorded 1996, Slipcase Edition. Excellent, ever-so-slightly used copy. - 3481801008827
“Methodical, unflappable (he is said to have seldom raised his voice), and subtle in the ways of the French repertory, Jean Fournet saw his career extend over an extraordinarily long period. After having established himself in his native country, he proved a welcome addition to opera companies in America, where the French style had become something of a lost art. Beyond stage work, he proved, both early and late, a persuasive interpreter of the French symphonic literature. After studies at the Paris Conservatoire, Fournet made his début in his native city in 1936; two years later, he was engaged by Rouen on a permanent basis. In 1940, he moved to Marseilles and, beginning in 1944, presided over the Paris Opéra-Comique as music director, simultaneously offering instruction in the art of conducting at the École Normale. In the 1950s, he was involved in several recording projects that enhanced his reputation considerably, notably his Fauré REQUIEM and a lightly turned LeS PÊCHEURS DE PERLES. Two further appointments awaited him in Europe before he turned to a regimen of guest conducting: in 1961 he became conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony, and from 1968 to 1973, he served as artistic director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Fournet made his American opera début with the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1965 directing a double bill consisting of a staged CARMINA BURANA and Ravel's magical L'HEURE ESPAGNOLE, the latter with Teresa Berganza, Alfredo Kraus, and Sesto Bruscantini. The conductor impressed immediately as one who could imprint elegance and respect for French style on his casts. His success led to further assignments, each helping reestablish the French wing in a city that had known great French artists in decades past. Among the productions were LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES in 1966, another double bill (LE ROSSIGNOL and OEDIPUS REX) in 1968, WERTHER in 1971, PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE in 1972, MANON in 1973, and DON QUICHOTTE in 1974. In 1987, Fournet made his Metropolitan Opera début conducting a production of SAMSON ET DALILA. In addition to a number of orchestral discs, Fournet recorded the aforementioned LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES for Philips with Léopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie, still unsurpassed. Fournet's Fauré and Berlioz Requiems are also impressive, likewise his 1973 Chicago MANON with Kraus and Zylis-Gara.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht was one of the most prominent French conductors of the first half of the twentieth century and a leading champion of the work of composer Claude Debussy. His family was musical: His father was a viola player in the Opéra de Paris and his mother was a pianist and violinist. They taught him the violin early on and enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory's courses on solfège and harmony under Taudou. For whatever reason, after several years there, he was expelled on the ground of ‘musical ineptitude’.
This did not prevent him from getting a musical job, for he joined an orchestra as a violinist. He learned the art of conducting from observation and self-study and débuted as a conductor in 1908 at the Théâtre des Arts. He became friends with Debussy, who asked him to prepare the choruses for the première of LE MARTYR DE ST. SÉBASTIEN in 1911. After this, he became director of music at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in 1913. In that position, he conducted the first French-language production of Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV.
He remained closely associated with theater music throughout his conducting career. Two major exceptions came in 1928 to 1932 when he led the Pas de Loup Concerts and after 1934, the year in which he founded the Orchestra National de la Radiodiffusion Française. This orchestra, whose name is sometimes given as the French Radio Orchestra or the O.R.F. (later O.R.T.F. Orchestra), is one of Paris' leading orchestras and the country's premier broadcast orchestra. He had two terms as its musical director, 1934 - 1944 and 1951 - 1958. His theatrical appointments included the Ballets Suédois (or Swedish Ballet, a French group despite its name) (1920 - 1923), the Opéra-Comique (1924 - 1925, 1932 - 1933), the Algiers Opéra (1929 - 1930), and the Paris Opéra (1945 - 1950). Throughout his life, he was regarded as the primary champion of Debussy's opera PÉLLEAS ET MÉLISANDE and his recording of it is recognized as an authentic representation of the style of its original performances. He was also a prolific composer in a style similar to those of Debussy or late Fauré, with subtle, clear orchestration. His best-known composition is LE NURSERY (1905 - 1911), a five-volume piano suite that he also orchestrated.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com