S0667. PIERRE FOURNIER, w.Kertész Cond. Swiss Festival Orch.: Concerto in b (Dvorák); w.Martinon Cond.RTF S.O.: Concerto #1 in a (Saint-Saëns); w.Bamert Cond. Festival Strings Lucerne: El cant dels ocells (Casals); Pierre Fournier's Dedication announcement. (Germany) Audite 95.628, Live Performances, 1962-76, Lucerne. - 4022143956286
"Pierre Fournier was one of the most eminent cellists of the generation after Casals. Praised as an 'aristocrat of cello playing', he was admired for his soulful, singing tone, uncomplicated elegance and refined sound. This disc presents three live recordings from this legacy, recorded at the Lucerne Festival and all first-time releases. With Istvan Kertész, Fournier performed a piece of his core repertoire in the summer of 1967: Dvorák's Cello Concerto - a particularly noteworthy archive discovery since the conductor's tragically early death prevented him from making a concerto studio recording. Camille Saint-Saëns' First Cello Concerto was held in low esteem for decades and not revived until the 1950s and '60s - not least thanks to Fournier's advocacy. In 1962, alongside Jean Martinon and the Orchestre Philharmonique de la RTF, he presented a passionate reading of the work, permitting a telling comparison to his previous studio recording. A new item in Fournier's discography, however, is the 'Cant dels ocells' which he played in 1976 at a memorial concert on the centenary of Casals' birthday - this was to be his last Lucerne Festival appearance."
“Pierre Léon Marie Fournier was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire where his teachers there were Paul Bazelaire and Anton Hekking; he graduated in 1924 at the age of 17. Fournier made his début the year after his graduation. This was a solo appearance with the Concerts Colonne Orchestra, which received favorable notices. The almost invariable comment in reviews was the perfection of his bowing technique. He began a successful career as a touring concert artist and as a performer in chamber music concerts, gaining a great reputation in Europe. In 1937 to 1939, he was the director of cello studies at the École Normal . It was often said that he became a friendly rival with his contemporary, cellist Paul Tortelier. He prescribed the Sevcik violin bowing studies for his cello students.
In 1941, he became a member of the faculty at the Paris Conservatoire, but during the war years, his concert touring career was impossible. Once the war was over, though, was able to resume and he rapidly increased in fame and international stature. His old audience found that he had grown in artistic depth. Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti, meeting Fournier in rehearsals for a 1947 Edinburgh Festival appearance, had not heard him for over ten years and wrote that he was ‘tremendously impressed by the Apollonian beauty and poise that his playing had acquired in the intervening years’. Szigeti, Fournier, violist William Primrose, and pianist Artur Schnabel formed a piano quartet in those years and gave some fabled concerts at which they played virtually all of Schubert's and Brahms' piano chamber music.
Fournier made his first U.S. tour in 1948. His chamber music partner Artur Schnabel spread the word among cellists, other musicians, and critics that they were to be visited by a great new cellist. The New York and Boston critics were ecstatic. He had to give up his Conservatoire post because of his expanding concert career; he appeared in Moscow for the first time in 1959. Commentator Lev Grinberg wrote that he was notable for a romantic interpretation, clarity of form, vivid phrasing and clean, broad bowing all ‘aimed at revealing the content’.
He had a broad repertoire, including Bach, Boccherini, the Romantics, Debussy, Hindemith, and Prokofiev. Composers Martinu, Martinon, Martin, Roussel, and Poulenc all wrote works for him. He had a standing Friday night date to privately play chamber music with Alfred Cortot, at which they might be visited by musicians like Jacques Thibaud. In 1953, he became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and was promoted to officer in 1963. In 1972, he retired to Switzerland and gave master classes. He still gave concerts, even as late as 1984 when he was 78.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com