C1959. JEAN MARTINON Cond. ORTF S.O.: Grosse Fugue, Op.133; Symphony #3 in c; w.CHRISTIAN FERRAS: Romance #1 in G; Romance #2 in F; w.CHRISTIAN FERRAS, PAUL TORTELIER & ERIC HEIDSIECK: Triple Concerto in C (all Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1187, Live Performance, 11 March., 1970, Théâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris). Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“In the words of one of his biographers, conductor Jean Martinon's performances ‘were distinguished by a concern for translucent orchestral textures, and sustained by a subtle sense of rhythm and phrasing’. Occasionally ‘he stressed a poetic inflection at the expense of literal accuracy’.
Martinon's first instrument was the violin; he studied at the Lyons Conservatory (1924-1925), then transferred to the Paris Conservatory, where he won first prize in violin upon his graduation in 1928. He subsequently studied composition with Albert Roussel, and conducting with Charles Munch and Roger Desormière. Until the outbreak of World War II Martinon was primarily a composer. His early substantial works include a Symphoniette for piano, percussion, and strings (1935); Symphony #1 (1936); Concerto giocoso for violin and orchestra (1937); and a wind quintet (1938). At the start of the war he was drafted into the French army. Taken prisoner in 1940, he passed the next two years in a Nazi labor camp. There, he wrote 'Stalag IX’ (Musique d'exil), an orchestral piece incorporating elements of jazz; during his internment, he also composed several religious works, including ’Absolve’, ‘Domine’ for male chorus and orchestra, and ‘Psalm 136’ (Chant des captifs), the latter receiving a composition prize from the city of Paris in 1946.
Upon his release from the Nazi camp Martinon became conductor of the Bordeaux Symphony Orchestra (from 1943 to 1945) and assistant conductor of the Paris Conservatory Orchestra (from 1944 to 1946), then associate conductor of the London Philharmonic (from 1947 to 1949). He toured as a guest conductor as well, although his U.S. début did not come until 1957, with the Boston Symphony giving the American premiere of his Symphony #2. Although he devoted as much time as he could to composing in the early postwar years -- producing a string quartet (1946), an ‘Irish’ Symphony (1948), the ballet ‘Ambohimang’a (1946), and the opera HÉCUBE (1949-1954) -- he was increasingly occupied with conducting, working with the Concerts Lamoureux (from 1951 to 1957), the Israel Philharmonic (from 1957 to 1959), and Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra (from 1960 to 1966). Martinon resumed his career as a composer around 1960, writing his Violin Concerto #2 (1960) for Henryk Szeryng, his Cello Concerto (1964) for Pierre Fournier, and his Symphony #4 (‘Altitudes’), composed in 1965, for the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony. He acknowledged Prokofiev and Bartók as strong influences on his scores, which meld Expressionism with French Neoclassicism. Martinon continued composing into the 1970s, but he seldom recorded any of his own music, with the notable exceptions of the Second Symphony, ‘Hymne à la vie’ (ORTF, for Barclay Inedits) and Fourth Symphony, ‘Altitudes"’ (Chicago SO, for RCA).
In 1963, he succeeded Fritz Reiner as head of the Chicago Symphony. Martinon's tenure there was difficult. In five seasons he conducted 60 works by modern European and American composers, and made a number of outstanding LPs for RCA, mostly of bracing twentieth century repertory in audiophile sound. Chicago's conservative music lovers soon sent him packing.
Martinon jumped at the chance to take over the French National Radio Orchestra in 1968; working with this ensemble he recorded almost the entire standard French repertory for Erato and EMI. His earlier Erato efforts that focused on such secondary but nevertheless interesting figures as Roussel, Pierné, and Dukas, whereas EMI assigned him integral sets of the Saint-Saëns symphonies and the orchestral works of Debussy and Ravel, among other projects. In 1974, he was appointed principal conductor of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, but he died before that relationship could bear much fruit.”
- James Reel, allmusic.com
“Christian Ferras was a French violinist who, at the age of 10, won the first prize of the Nice Conservatory and won the first prize of the Paris Conservatory in 1946, where he studied with Rene Benedetti and Joseph Calvet. He started an international career with leading orchestras and conductors, notably recording the romantic concertos of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and others with Herbert von Karajan. Since the recent retirement of Zino Francescatti, he was considered France's leading concert violinist.
Mr. Ferras, who made his New York debut in 1959 when he was 25, won consistently high praise for his musicianship. Howard Taubman, music critic of THE NEW YORK TIMES, wrote that Mr. Ferras was '’uncommonly gifted’ and that his playing had ‘fire and brilliance’. Over the years, the violinist appeared on the concert stage as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony and other leading orchestras. His grasp of the violin repertory, and in particular the works of Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn, was enhanced by what Mr. Taubman called ‘a texture and muscularity that reflects the Gallic style’ of playing the instrument.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 Sept., 1982
“Small of stature but sumptuous of tone, Christian Ferras represented the best of the Franco-Belgian violin school. Of his two main teachers, René Benedetti inculcated a respect for technique and George Enescu broadened his outlook - he was to command a much wider repertoire than most French violinists of his era. In the 1960s he was the favoured violin soloist of Herbert von Karajan and their recordings together sold by the thousand. Unfortunately the illness that was to lead to his death often kept Ferras away from the concert hall. But today his reputation continues to grow, as his records are discovered by a fresh audience.”
“Paul Tortelier, a French cellist known for his elegant, passionate playing and for his political idealism, spent most of his long career in Europe, where he was a professor at the Paris Conservatory, a busy soloist and an author. His master classes for the British Broadcasting Corporation attracted wide attention in 1964. Among his more notable pupils was the cellist Jacqueline du Pre. Mr. Tortelier, on the other hand, was busy in the United States both at the beginning and at the end of his musical life. In 1937, Serge Koussevitzky engaged him as a cellist for the Boston Symphony. From Boston he began an American solo career, including a 1938 Town Hall recital with the pianist Leonard Shure. A year later, Mr. Tortelier returned to France and remained. Early in the 1980's Mr. Tortelier returned to concerts in the United States, and after a 35-year absence he played in New York again.
Paul Tortelier was born in Paris in 1914 and won a first prize at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 16. His début came a year later at the Concerts Lamoureux. His international career had perhaps its biggest catalyst in 1947, when Sir Thomas Beecham invited him to play DON QUIXOTE for a Richard Strauss festival in London.
Mr. Tortelier acted out his beliefs, retreating temporarily from musical life in 1955 to spend a year on a kibbutz in Israel even though he was not himself Jewish. Mr. Tortelier married one of his pupils, Maud Martin, in 1946. They had three children, all professional musicians.”
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 20 Dec, 1990