Sunday Gramophone - Legendary French Conductor Albert Wolff leads the Lamoureux Orchestra of Paris in a performance of the Nocturnes (Nuages and Fetes) by Claude Debussy recorded by French Polydor in 1928.
December 12, 2010

Albert Wolff - one of the all-time great French Conductors.

As the Record industry evolved from a living room novelty to becoming a serious method of preserving music, the clamor was on to get as much repertoire recorded and available to an insatiable audience as possible. Classical had always been a problem because of the length of works, the size of performing bodies and just the effort and expense it took. It was easier when a particular orchestra or conductor was "in-house" or under exclusive contract to a particular label. In France, where there was a hotbed of recording activity going on in the 1920's and 30's, each of the major labels had their own "Exclusive conductor" to rely on. HMV (or VDSM as it was known) had Piero Coppola. Columbia had Philippe Gaubert and Polydor had Albert Wolff.

Albert Wolff was one of the great conductors of French repertoire and had a hugely popular reputation throughout Europe, not only as a conductor of Orchestral work but also of Opera, which he was closely associated with the legendary Opera Comique in the early 1920's and several other opera companies later on (including the Metropolitan Opera in New York after World War 1). He was responsible for many premiers of important works all throughout his career and his later stereo recordings (he died in 1970 so he was well into the LP period) are benchmarks of technique as well as stellar examples of the recording art.

But today we're going to play a work by a composer he was very much associated with early on. Claude Debussy and the 1928 recording of Nuages and Fetes from Nocturnes. Albert Wolff conducts the Lamoureux Orchestra. Wolff made a vast quantity of recordings for Polydor and not all of them have been reissued on CD. I'm not sure if this one has, but you get to hear it now nonetheless.

Perfect Sunday music.

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