– Debussy – Rhapsodie Orientale for Saxophone and Orchestra – 1955 –
To more familiar territory this week. Still by way of French Radio in the 1950’s. The repertoire is Debussy this time. The Rhapsodie Orientale for Saxophone and Orchestra featuring the legendary saxophonist Marcel Mule, accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of The French Radio conducted by another legend, Manuel Rosenthal in this circa 1955 Radio broadcast recording.
Marcel Mule was known worldwide as one of the great classical saxophonists, and many pieces were written for him, premiered by him, and arranged by him. Many of these pieces have become staples in the classical saxophone repertoire. He is considered to be the founder of the French Saxophone School and the most representative saxophone soloist of his time, being a fundamental figure in the development of the instrument.
In 1923, he completed an exam to become a member of the Garde républicaine’s band, La Musique de la Garde Républicaine. It provided a regular income for him. He became known for his beautiful sound, and became the saxophone soloist in the Garde, which caused him to be asked to play in concerts with orchestras and also in the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique (although almost exclusively for Massenet’s Werther, as this was the only opera in the repertoire that called for an orchestral saxophone). As Mule admits, in that time people liked his sound, though he played as other people did at that time, with a straight interiorised sound. It was during this period that he played frequently with modern dance bands, and where his exposure to American jazz bands, with their treatment of vibrato, inspired him to experiment with and develop his trademark classical saxophone vibrato.
In 1927, Mule formed a saxophone quartet along with members of the Garde, under the name of Quatuor de la Garde Républicaine. In its earliest stage (it was to last for some 40 years) there was no music for such groups. Mule transcribed the music of classical composers such as Albéniz (Sevilla from the Suite Española Op. 47) and Mozart. His new ensemble achieved critical acclaim early on. As a consequence, important composers of the day, including Gabriel Pierné, Florent Schmitt and Alexander Glazunov, contributed their own works to an ever-expanding repertoire for the instrument group. This influx of exciting new material proved essential for the establishment of the saxophone quartet as a viable, sustainable ensemble type.
Rare broadcast recordings of familiar works as performed by the biggest names of the day.
Perfect end to the week, if you ask me. Or a perfect start – depending on where you are
As you know, we’ve suspended indefinitely our ads in order to make Past Daily a better experience for you without all the distractions and pop-ups. Because of that, we’re relying more on your support through Patreon to keep us up and running every day. For as little as $5.00 a month you can make a huge difference as well as be able to download all of our posts for free (news, history, music). You’ll see a banner just below. Click on that and become a subscriber – it’s easy, painless and does a world of good.