Fournier and Doyen's "beautiful" 1952 Fauré Sonatas
XR remastered for finest sound quality
Peter Harrison had to use every trick up his sleeve to get the best possible transfer from this relatively early example of 33rpm vinyl LP technology - rather surprisingly finding that the two sides responded quite differently and required different stylii for best results. These excellent transcriptions still revealed the flaws in the original material and recording techniques, and thus they were passed over to Pristine Audio for restoration and XR remastering.
The XR processing successfully identified and dealt with the main problem that had given Peter cause for concern when making his transfers - a tendency to harshness and distortion in the high treble area which was exacerbated by the uneven tonal response of the recording. Once this had been corrected the wonderful recording you can now hear suddenly blossomed - perhaps one of the finest examples we have of chamber music from this era.
FAURÉ Violin Sonata No.1 in A major, Op. 13
FAURÉ Violin Sonata No.2 in E minor, Op. 108
Recorded April 1952
Released as Westminster LP WL 5156
Jean Fournier, violin
Ginette Doyen, piano
Classic Record Collector Review
These discs resuscitate two of the forgotten generation of French violinists, those who flourished in the 1950s but never became household names as their cellist colleagues did. The only successors to Jacques Thibaud who shone were Christian Ferras and, briefly, Ginette Neveu; but several others were marvellous artists. Jean Fournier (1911-2003) was overshadowed by his elder brother Pierre, although record collectors recall him fondly for his trio with Janigro and Badura-Skoda. Partnered by his equally sympathetic wife Ginette Doyen, he eases his way beautifully through Faure's two sonatas, hitting their slightly differing characters precisely. They have been rather neglected on record and the only substantial competitor in the 1950s was the version by Pierre Doukan, another unjustly forgotten fiddler, with Therese Cochet; it has been on CD in Japan (Erato CD WPCC3355). Grumiaux gave us quite a decent Op. 13 with Iscvan Hajdu but I have never got on with his later coupling of both sonatas with Paul Crossley.
For the A major Sonata, the Fourniers find freshness and a delicately lively pulse in (i), beautifully shaped phrases and lovely soft tones in (ii), deftness for the Scherzo, with a lyrical trio, and an easy tempo primo for the finale, which works up a good deal of power. They are at once more serious in the E minor Sonata, although they still sing beautifully in (i) and the phrases soar nicely, with a good pulse; (ii) is given an easeful, flowing character, with sensitive dynamic variations and a lovely quiet ending. Again the duo takes a deceptively easy approach to the finale. The sound is excellent: Peter Harrison did the LP transfer, Andrew Rose the final mastering. Sometimes I wonder if Doyen is slightly backwardly placed in the First Sonata but all doubts about balance are resolved in the second.
Tully Potter, Classic Record Collector, Spring 2009