Roger Desormiere, Vol. III;  Darius Milhaud;  Aline van Barentzen   (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-807)
Item# C1709
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Roger Desormiere, Vol. III;  Darius Milhaud;  Aline van Barentzen   (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-807)
C1709. ROGER DÉSORMIÈRE Cond. RTF S.O.: La Marseillase (de Lisle); Hymne à la justice (Magnard); Le chant des girondins (Varney); Le temple universel (Berlioz); w.ALINE VAN BARENTZEN: Choral Fantasy in c (Beethoven); w. Jacqueline Lucazeau (S) & Louis Railland (T): Grande symphonie funèbre et Triomphale (Berlioz); DARIUS MILHAUD Cond.: Symphony #4, Op.281 (Cond. by the Composer - [World Premiere Performance]). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-807, Live Performance, 20 May, 1948, 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

“Darius Milhaud, the composer who helped overturn traditional French music in the 1920s, was a famously prolific composer who tossed off new works at a speed and with the apparent ease associated with predecessors such as Rossini, Mozart and Boccherini.

A burly, bearlike figure, he presided in the early twenties as senior over a loosely knit band of rebel composers who came to be known as ‘The French Six’. Several of the group shared with Milhaud a disdain for what they felt was an overly solemn attitude toward music. He, in fact, was denounced for ‘frivolity’ for works in which he would use, as texts, prosaic lists of farm machinery or flower catalogues.

His best-known works in this iconoclastic period of his career, and possibly the ones that will insure him a place in composing history, are the jazz-influenced ‘Création du monde’ (1923) and ‘Le Boeuf sur le toit’ (1920), which used Brazilian folk tunes and rhythms and caused a scandal at its Paris premiere.

‘The Six’, though never a school in the usual sense, shared an admiration for jazz and cabaret music. Taking the eccentric composer Erik Satie and the impresario Jean Cocteau as their prophets, they reacted against the academic glibness and conservatism of the older generation of French composers epitomized by Franck and D'Indy.

Milhaud, however, was more than a high-spirited trifler. In 1915, he wrote stage music for Paul Claudel's translation of the ‘Choephori’ of Aeschylus, experimenting with an ‘orchestration of stage noises’ that included the sounds of whistling winds, human groans and cries of despair. Fifty years later such noninstrumental sounds, in works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and others, came to be part of the common language of the avantgarde.

When Milhaud's autobiography, NOTES WITHOUT MUSIC, was published in English translation in this country in 1952, Aaron Copland summed up in these words: ‘Others write music to express themselves; Milhaud, like no other composer I know, writes music to celebrate life itself’. And in his celebration of life through music Milhaud was extraordinarily fecund. He wrote more than 400 works, including 12 symphonies, 18 string quartets, (of which Nos. 14 and 15 may he combined to make an octet), 34 concertos, 15 operas, 19 ballets and 25 film scores.

Milhaud once explained the diversity of his music: ‘I have no esthetic rules, or philosophy or theories. I love to write music. I always do it with pleasure, otherwise I just do not write it. I have always made it my business to accept musical jobs of every kind. Naturally, there are certain types of work that I prefer, but a composer should do everything with application, with all the resources of contemporary technique at his disposal. He can then hope that, after a life of hard work, he will see some works survive’.

Those who saw him at work said he never changed a note once it was down on paper. No rough drafts, no scribbling in notebooks, as with Beethoven and others. Milhaud did not compose at the piano, but simply wrote swiftly, as if transcribing from another copy, having the piece firmly composed in his head, like Mozart. He refused to discuss his style, insisting that ‘every work brings its own style, its own form; you cannot talk about a style’.

Milhaud fled France in 1940 soon after the Germans had occupied the country. On the ship bringing him from Lisbon to New York he received a cable offering him the teaching position at Mills College that was to provide his permanent link to America. Prominent among the other American schools at which he taught from time to time was the Aspen Institute in Colorado, to which he returned summer after summer for many years.

Milhaud moved back and forth relentlessly between Europe and America in the last two decades of his life. From 1947 on he alternated each year between teaching posts at Mills College, in Oakland, CA (with which he had been associated since 1940), and the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique in Paris. Through all this, only one thing could keep him from composing - the arthritic pain in his hands.

Unlike Brahms, who before his death burned piles of manuscripts he regarded as inferior, Milhaud seemed uncritical of his own work. Although his pieces often appear on concert programs, it is their overall workmanship rather than any individual brilliance that characterizes them, and may be regarded as Milhaud's best chance for survival in repertory. As a seminal figure in modern music, however, he has an already secure place.”

- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 June, 1974

“Aline van Barentzen still holds the record as the youngest pianist, at 11 years old, to have won the First Prize at the Paris Conservatory. Her first recital was at the age of four, after which her mother moved with her from Boston to Paris for further music studies. Practicing six hours a day, at the age of seven she performed Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with orchestra, and at nine was accepted into the Paris Conservatory. Her teachers there included Marguerite Long and Delaborde. Later she studied in Berlin with Heirich Barth and Ernst von Dohnanyi (among her fellow students were Arthur Rubinstein and Wilhelm Kempff), and in Vienna with Leschetizky.

With Paris as her home she became friends with many of the leading musicians and composers of the early twentieth century, including Enescu, Poulenc, Messaien, Roussel, and Villa Lobos, whose works she often premiered. She performed frequently throughout Europe with the leading conductors and recorded for His Master's Voice. She became a French citizen in the 1930s and spent the war in Paris, playing concerts as part of the effort to boost morale.

Aline absorbed scores quickly, learning all 24 Debussy Préludes during a vacation, and the Brahms ‘Paganini Variations’ in five days. At one time she had an active repertoire of over 500 works. Her extensive early training resulted in complete technical mastery, it being told that when she went to study with Leschetizky he declared himself satisfied with her technique and spent his time on interpretation. Even though French music was her specialty she also recorded all of Beethoven's 32 sonatas for French Radio, and included a wide range of repertoire in her programs.

Her early teaching assignments included the Philadelphia Musical Academy and the Buenos Aires Conservatory. In 1954 she became Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory and can count Jean-Philippe Collard and Cyprien Katsaris among her famous students.”

- Rose Eide-Altman

“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