Yvonne Lefébure accompanies Jeanne Gautier in a Radio recital this week.

Yvonne Lefébure accompanies Jeanne Gautier in a Radio recital this week.
Yvonne Lefébure accompanies Jeanne Gautier in a Radio recital this week.

Ravel: Sonata for Violin and Piano – Jeanne Gautier, violin – Yvonne Lefébure, piano – ORTF Broadcast, circa 1953

Back to Paris this weekend for a radio broadcast performance of the Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano as played by two icons of French  music in the 20th century, Jeanne Gautier and Yvonne Lefébure.

Jeanne Gautier is probably one of the lesser-known but notable female violinists who recorded in the 1930’s to 1950s but who has pretty much lapsed into obscurity over the years. Less so for Yvonne Lefébure, whose reissues on CD have been numerous in recent years.

Yvonne Lefébure was one of the premier French pianists and teachers of the twentieth century. A prodigy, Lefébure studied with Maurice Emmanuel and Charles-Marie Widor at the Paris Conservatoire and also took private lessons with Alfred Cortot, who is said to have had the greatest influence over her playing. Lefébure maintained a lifelong concert schedule and was a favorite of conductors such as Igor Markevich, Sir Adrian Boult, Wilhelm Furtwangler, and in particular Pablo Casals, who regularly employed her in his Prades and Perpignan festivals of the 1950s and 1960s. These conductors liked her no-nonsense approach, which was tempered with a high emotional sensitivity and an artistic flair. As Lefébure could balance all of these disparate elements with a sense of strong self-discipline, yet flexibility, it made her an ideal choice in concerto literature.

As always with these French Radio transcriptions, dates are illusive, but the best guess would put it around 1953. There was a commercial recording of this Ravel Sonata featuring the same musicians, issued on a 45 by the label Le Chant du Monde, but it’s doubtful that performance is derived from this one but it’s possible they may have been recorded around the same time. The commercial disc, at last check, has gone for the princely sum of $1100.00 on Ebay. So . . . . .

In any event, here is the radio recital, as given over the ORTF in the early 1950s.

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