Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht, Vol. I     (St Laurent Studio YSL 78-052)
Item# C1116
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Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht, Vol. I     (St Laurent Studio YSL 78-052)
C1116. DÉSIRE-ÉMILE INGHELBRECHT Cond. Orchestre des Concerts Pasdeloup: Ma Mère l’Oye (Ravel); L’Apprenti sorcier (Dukas); The Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov); In the Steppes of Central Asia; Prince Igor – Polovtsian Dances; Chorus of the Peasants (Borodin). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-052, recorded 1929, Pathé ‘Art’ Label. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, a member of the original Les Apaches with Maurice Ravel, became associated almost exclusively with the music of Claude Debussy, despite his work in Mussorgsky and Florent Schmitt. St-Laurent Studio resurrects Inghelbrecht’s 1929 electric recordings with the Pasdeloup Concerts Orchestra in the delicate color-work required by Borodin, Dukas, and Ravel. The Ravel MOTHER GOOSE SUITE (1911) based on the children’s tales of Charles Perrault has a sensitive interpreter in Inghelbrecht, who paces the music in plastic and transparent colors. The sense of urgency, of the tragic inexorability of time, present in the Koussevitzky performance from the same period, likewise makes itself manifest in this reading. The oriental harmonies of the ‘Laideronnette’ section ring with pagodas and gamelan pageantry. The solo clarinet in waltz time portrays Beauty as the contrabassoon embodies Beast’s pleas for affection. The waltz tempo underpins the eventual transformation, via a harp glissando, of Beast into the solo violin’s Prince Charming. The entire last section, ‘The Fairy Garden’, embodies an awakening, but it, too, shimmers in a tragic awareness of youth’s frailty and terrible evanescence, what we must construe as ‘Paradise Lost’. Inghelbrecht’s studied peroration reaches a lovely flowering, as splendid as it is aristocratic.

The Dukas c minor Scherzo after the Goethe ballad has never lacked good interpreters, and Inghelbrecht captures its airs of mystery and foolhardy bravado. The playing from the woodwinds enjoys that particularly nasal resonance of Gallic realization, and the attacks remain curt, with brief decay at the cadences. The carefree whimsy of the initial theme places the symphonic poem in a league with the Strauss TILL EULENSPIEGEL, which Inghelbrecht also recorded. The well-restored 78rpm sound reminds us of how brilliantly scored are the interior brass and wind lines. The suave momentum of the music ascends to feverish heights, certainly as our hapless apprentice overestimates his power over the broom and its eldritch progeny. The apprentice’s lament and culminating swat from the Master well mark a sense of poetic justice.

The Russian entries combine deft playing and spirited affection for the repertory, and we must recall that Inghelbrecht brought BORIS GUDONOV to Paris. Of the three Borodin entries, the tone-poem IN THE STEPPES OF CENTRAL ASIA enjoys a leisurely evolution of orchestral colors, opening with the inverted pedal in the strings and proceeding through the winds over pizzicato strings. The nasal muezzin chant invokes a world of throbbing string resonance as fine response in the horns. The blending of the two main themes, always a high moment, possesses a romantic character in this reading.

The ‘Polovtsian Dances’ (with female chorus) from PRINCE IGOR proceed rather beyond the routine and dependable, comparing favorably with performances by Coates and Stokowski, and the Chorus of the Peasants beguiles in its rare vintage of oriental harmony. Once more, the unfiltered restorations prove virile and commanding rather than distracting in their ability to project a musical experience that vibrates with authenticity.”

—Gary Lemco, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, 26 Feb., 2015

“The first performance of Debussy’s PELLEAS ET MELISANDE in 1902 made a major impact upon Inghelbrecht and he was to be associated with the music of that composer throughout his life. Jacques Rouche engaged Inghelbrecht as conductor at the Theatre des Arts in 1908, where he directed the first performance of Florent Schmitt’s LA TRAGEDIE DE SALOME, and in 1911 he was chorusmaster for the stage première of Debussy’s mystery-play with dance, LE MARTYRE DE SAINT SEBASTIEN; he later conducted with distinction its revival as a concert piece in 1912. In order to give Paris a first-class choir, Inghelbrecht founded the Association Chorale Professionelle in 1912 and in the same year was appointed director of music at the newly constructed Theatre des Champs-Elysees, where he conducted the theatre’s opening season productions. These included Berlioz’s BENVENUTO CELLINI, Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV, and Dukas’ LA PERI.

After World War I, in 1919 Inghelbrecht founded the Concerts Pleyel with the objective of performing the music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He toured Europe with the Ballets Suedois between 1920 and 1923, conducting the first performances of LES MARIES DE LA TOUR EIFFEL by Les Six, and Milhaud’s L’HOMME ET SON DESIR (both in 1921) and on his return to France became chief conductor at the Opera-Comique, Paris (1924–1925). He then held a succession of posts - second conductor at the Concerts Pasdeloup (1928–1932), chief conductor of the Algerian Opera (1929–1930), and once again chief conductor at the Opera-Comique (1932–1933) - before embarking upon his major achievement: the formation in 1934 of the top radio orchestra in France, the Orchestre National de Radio France, of which he was chief conductor until the liberation of France at the end of World War II. He continued to conduct this orchestra until the end of his life, including on tour to England in 1953, even during the years (1945–1950) when he was chief conductor at the Paris Opera.

Inghelbrecht knew Debussy well, and specialised in the performance of his music throughout his career. He recorded works by Debussy both before and after World War II, on 78rpm and long-playing records, keeping alive a style of interpretation which he sedulously maintained to the end of his life. His performances of Debussy’s music were direct and precise, and without any hint of ‘impressionism’. His own compositions, especially those written when he was young, clearly showed the influence of Debussy. Among the most well-known of his works are LA NURSERY, composed between 1905 and 1932, the ballet EL GRECO of 1920, and the REQUIEM of 1941. He also wrote several books on different aspects of conducting.”

- David Patmore, A–Z of Conductors

“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”

- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011