It was a sad piece of news, hearing of the passing of Georges Pretre on January 4th of this year. Hardly had we recovered from the staggering amount of loss in 2016, than 2017 seems to show no signs of letting up.
Pretre was one of the truly great interpreters of French music during the latter part of the 20th century. In addition, his special partnership with the legendary Maria Callas resulted in some of the most profound opera recordings of the 1950s and 1960s, which are still regarded as essentials today.
He was well versed in the classics, the tried-and-true. But it was his interpretations of Poulenc and Ravel that gave him an authority and a place in musical history as an interpreter of definitive performances, particularly in the music of Francis Poulenc, whom he gave several premiers, including that of La Voix Humaine, which he premiered in 1959.
This concert, only the second half features two works he was especially associated with. Poulenc’s Les Biches and Ravel’s 2nd Suite from Daphnis et Chloe. This performance, as with all his performances of these works, Georges Pretre gave it that extra bit of polish, the extra care – and coupled with a good working relationship with the orchestra he had worked with countless times, an added bit of charm.
Luckily for everyone, the recorded output of Pretre is large and extends as far as back as the late 1940s, and much of it has been reissued many times over the years. If you are a fan of French music, particularly the music of Poulenc as well as contemporary French composers, then you no doubt have at least a few albums featuring Georges Pretre.
If you don’t – do yourself a favor and check out his stunning legacy.
He will be sorely missed.