C1569. ROGER DÉSORMIÈRE Cond. RTF S.O.: Divertimento for String Orchestra (Bartok); w.Géza Anda (Pf. & Jacques Neilz (Cello): Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat (Brahms). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-523, Live Performances, 1950 & 1949, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Roger Désormière's teachers were extremely distinguished: he studied flute with Philippe Gaubert, orchestration with Vincent d'Indy, fugue with Charles Koechlin, and harmony with Xavier Leroux. Désormière then worked as a flautist in various Parisian orchestras before making his debut as a conductor with the Concerts Pleyel in 1921. From 1923 onwards he collaborated with the group of composers known as Les Six, and was himself a member of the Ecole d'Arcueil, which was founded by Erik Satie, Henri Sauguet, Maxime Jacob and Henri Clicquot-Pleyel. He conducted the first performances of ballets choreographed by Massine with music by Satie and Milhaud at the Soirees de Paris, and composed the music for Cocteau's abbreviated production of ROMEO AND JULIET. After a year as chief conductor with the Ballets Suedois, he took the same position with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1925, staying with the company and touring widely until 1929. Among the composers who worked with the company and whose music Désormière conducted were Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Poulenc.
In 1936 Désormière became chief conductor of the Paris Symphony Orchestra as well as permanent conductor at the Opéra-Comique, Paris; here he refreshed the repertoire with operas by Chabrier, Ravel and Richard Strauss, and in 1942 led a legendary production of Debussy's PELLEAS ET MELISANDE with Irene Joachim and Jacques Jansen. He had recorded the opera with the same principals earlier in 1941, and this performance has maintained a prominent place in the catalogue ever since, fully justifying its own legendary status. Between 1944 and 1946 he was the director of the Opéra-Comique, Paris, and during 1945-1946 he was also associate director of the Paris Opéra.
The importance of Désormière to contemporary French music cannot be overestimated: he conducted the first performances of such notable works as THE PRODIGAL SON, by Prokofiev (1928), ACTION DE GRACE and TROIS PETITES LITURGIES DE LA PRESENCE DIVINE by Messiaen (1936 and 1945), the Organ Concerto of Poulenc (1939), the Symphony in Three Movements by Stravinsky (1946), LE SOLEIL DES EAUX by Pierre Boulez (1950), and Henri Dutilleux's Symphony #1 (1951).
After his death many paid tribute to Désormière's generosity of character and distinguished musicianship, perhaps none more eloquently than the composer Olivier Messiaen, who said, 'I shall never forget that, in my youth, he was truly the friend of composers, and the conductor'."
- David Patmore, A - Z of Conductors
“Géza Anda was a Swiss-Hungarian pianist, a celebrated interpreter of classical and romantic repertoire, particularly noted for his performances and recordings of Mozart, he was also a tremendous interpreter of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Bartók. In his heyday he was regarded as an amazing artist, possessed of a beautiful, natural and flawless technique that gave his concerts a unique quality.
Anda was born in 1921 in Budapest. He studied with some of the renowned teachers of the 20th century such as Imre Stefaniai and Imre Keeri-Szanto, and became a pupil of Ernst von Dohnányi and Zoltán Kodály at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. In 1940 he won the Liszt Prize, and in the next year, he made an international name for himself with his performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto #2. In 1941, he also made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Wilhelm Furtwängler, who dubbed him ‘troubadour of the piano’. In 1943, he settled in Switzerland. In the mid-1950s, Anda gave masterclasses at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and in 1960 he took the position of director of the Lucerne masterclasses, succeeding Edwin Fischer.
As a performer, Anda was particularly noted for his interpretation of Schumann's and Brahms' piano music. The New Grove Dictionary cites his ‘charismatic readings of Bartók and Schumann’. He was regarded as the principal Bartók interpreter of his generation, even if other pianists since his death have made more obviously exciting recordings of that composer's concertos. Although he played very little Mozart in his early career, he became the first pianist to record the full cycle of Mozart's piano concerti; he recorded them between 1961 and 1969, conducting himself from the keyboard. His performance of the Andante from Mozart's Piano Concerto #21 in C on the soundtrack of the 1967 film ELVIRA MADIGAN led to the epithet ‘Elvira Madigan’ often being applied to the concerto.”
- Concours Géza Anda, Zürich
"In an age of well trained automata set to shine briefly on the competition circuit, Anda's was a wholly personal voice backed by pianism and craftsmanship of a transcendental sheen and precision. Géza Anda's tragic death at the age of 54 extinguished a light that could never be replaced."
- Bryce Morrison, GRAMOPHONE, Aug., 2008