Monique de la Bruchollerie, piano/ Camerata Academica, Salzburg/ Bernhard Baumgartner (Mozart)/ Budapest National Philharmonic Orchestra/ Janos Ferencsik (Beethoven)/ Concert Colonne Orchestra, Paris/ Jonel Perlea (Franck)/
Doremi DHR-7842/3, 66:03; 77:38 (Distrib. Allegro) ****:
A pupil of both Isidor Philipp and Emil von Sauer and winner of the 1937 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Poland, a devoted friend of Emil Gilels, Monique de la Bruchollerie (1915-1972) evolved the French style of piano playing according to her own lights, cultivating a rich, colorful sonority which came to the attention of Munch, Bernstein, Szell, Celibidache, Karajan, and Mitropoulos. She was the first female exponent of Rachmaninov’s D Minor Concerto. Brouchollerie made few records, her inscription of the Tchaikovsky Concerto with Moralt on Vox being prized by collectors. Now, via Jacob Harnoy’s Doremi label, we have Volume I: select acetates and live broadcast performances, 1947-1966, that should extend her repute as a colossal interpreter of large works in the classical canon. Sound reproduction for the period is good in the Mozart, Franck, and Rachmaninov, even better in the Beethoven. The transfers from 78s are noisy but eminently musical.
Particularly fluid are the two Mozart piano concertos with veteran Bernhard Paumgartner from 1963, with Brouchollerie’s contributing both the long silken line and limpid flourishes, as well as a decided tension in the D Minor Concerto worthy of the classic renditions by Gieseking and Serkin. While most French pianists concentrate on a sonority generated from the fingertips, Brouchollerie employs forearm and shoulder, producing a thicker sound. The A Major Concerto filigree, however, simply sails effortlessly in a manner easily reminiscent of the best of Haskil and Lipatti – high company indeed. The Adagio is of surpassing beauty, nuancing the gradations between pp and ppp. Deserving special attention is the beguiling collaboration with Jonel Perlea in Franck’s Symphonic Variations (1956), where after two relatively slow, carefully modulated sections, the music suddenly takes on a jazz flavor, a decided spontaneity and improvisatory quality entirely captivating.
The Scarlatti selection (1950) from Nixa is a Tausig arrangement (splicing K. 9 to K. 20) popular with Hofmann and Friedmann; in noisy sound (like the HMV Haydn from 1947), it still communicates a precious facility, wondrous staccati. Rachmaninov is not cherished by French pianists much; perhaps Entremont and Jean-Yves Thibaudet are modern exceptions. Brouchollerie collaborates again (1956) with the gifted, under-rated Jonel Perlea for an alternately quicksilver and searchingly romantic performance, the Dies Irae permutations pointing to what Bruchollerie’s Liszt might have been. (We might recall that Perlea did record the Liszt Totentanz with Kilenyi for Remington.) A marvelous moment in the Bruchollerie occurs with the oboe, violin, horn, and piano variation, leading to the inevitable Variation 18, a pearly, limpid realization if ever there were, magisterially unsentimental. The final variants with Brouchollerie convince that Paganini may well have sold his soul to the Devil. Recommended.
— Gary Lemco