Chabrier: Suite Pastorale – FNO conducted by Manuel Rosenthal – 1952 – ORTF Studio Session –
Familiar ground this weekend. Manuel Rosenthal is certainly no stranger to collectors, nor is Emmanuel Chabrier to Music lovers. Today it’s a performance of his very popular Suite Pastorale, with the French National Orchestra in a studio session for ORTF in Paris, around 1952.
As is the case with this collection of French Radio transcriptions, there are no dates; just approximations. Occasionally one of my friends in Paris will run across the correct dates and all will be good. But I’m going out on a limb here and saying it has to be around 1952 and no earlier.
Manuel Rosenthal’s conducting career began in earnest in 1934, when he became percussionist and assistant conductor of the Orchester National de France , to Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht . In 1936, Georges Mandel invited him to conduct the Orchester de Radio PTT. As his fame as a conductor grew, he was attacked in Action Française in 1937 by Lucien Rebatet , who demanded his expulsion from his radio conductorship. In the same year Serge Koussevitzky , in Paris during the Exposition , invited Rosenthal to become assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony under him – an offer reiterated after a Salle Pleyel concert on the eve of war in 1939. After Ravel’s death in 1937, and following the success of Gaîté Parisienne , he became a close colleague of great Russian émigré composer Igor Stravinsky .
Rosenthal’s musical career was interrupted by World War II when, as a corporal in the 300th infantry regiment stationed in 1939 in Alsace near the Rhine, he was taken prisoner by the Germans in May 1940. Still musically active even as a POW, he not only organized concerts in the camp he was interned in but even composed an operetta based on a play by Georges Courteline . Included in a POW exchange, he was sent back to the occupied zone , arrived back in Paris in March 1941 and escaped to Marseille in the Zone libre (free zone) with the help of Roland-Manuel . But he was arrested in Besançonin September 1941 while trying to see his son and sentenced to six months forced labor. With the assistance of a German officer, however, he got the necessary papers to escape back to Marseilles. Later in 1942, he returned to Paris and courageously joined the Resistance, working with eminent musical colleagues Désormière , Durey , Delvincourt , Charles Munch and others.
Upon the liberation in 1944, he returned to the Orchester National de France to become their principal conductor, a post he held until 1947. The first concert consisted of works from each of the Allied countries, including the Hymne à la Justice by Magnard . He made sure a wide range of contemporary music was played, and the first season included a complete Stravinsky cycle. In his final year with the orchestra, he brought it to England to join Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic in a concert organized by Jack Hylton that filled the Harringay Arena with 13,500 listeners.
In early 1946, Rosenthal’s first conductorship in the USA was with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra . Having accepted the post of composer-in-residence at the College of Puget Sound , he was invited to become music director of the Seattle Symphony , which he conducted from 1948–1951 while undertaking guest engagements in San Francisco and Buenos Aires . He then went to Algiers to conduct there and in Tunis during the winter of 1952-53.
In any event, this is a popular work featuring a well-respected Conductor, a top-flight orchestra and it’s never been commercially released.
Something to enjoy on a Sunday night to get you ready for the week.