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Yvonne Lefebure Edition

Yvonne Lefebure Edition

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Yvonne Lefébure (1900-1986) was one of the most important French pianists and piano teachers of the 20th century. From a very young age she demonstrated real musical talent. When she was only 6 years old she studied the piano with Marguerite Long (1874-1966), initially in a private school, known as the Conservatoire Femina-Musica, then in Marguerite Long’s preparatory classes for the Conservatory. Yvonne Lefébure gave her first recital aged 12. Her earliest concert performances contained demanding works such as the B minor Piano Sonata by Franz Liszt or Robert Schumann’s Etudes symphoniques. Ultimately this gifted pianist took lessons with Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), one of the most important and indeed most influential personalities of musical life in the 20th century. Her most important studies with Cortot took place in his conservatory classes for advanced students, a group she joined in 1911 and from which she was awarded a first prize in 1912. Yvonne Lefébure had further private lessons with Cortot particularly in the period 1919-1939, when she was one of the most important teachers at the Ecole Normale de Musique. Later she went on to lead a masterclass at the Ecole Normale de Musique. From 1952 to 1967 she was Professor at the Paris Conservatory. Yvonne Lefébure was an outstanding soloist, chamber musician and concert solo artiste: by listening to this album listeners can get an impression of her talent for themselves.


Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and Sonatas 30-31 were recorded 1955-56 in decent monaural sound. The Diabelli is a fine, forceful reading in one long band (each variation is not tracked). The sonatas are beautifully rendered and show a pianist of discriminating taste and maturity. They also show Lefebure to possess a technical mastery that places her at the forefront among artists of her generation.

Mozart’s Violin Sonata in G with violinist Jeanne Gautier, and Beethoven’s Sonata 32 and Sonata 8 are decent enough, though no reason is given why we are left with only the first movement of the Pathetique Sonata.

The Mozart Piano Concerto 20 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Furtwangler is a pleasant surprise, though the strings are a bit glassy. Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor along with some organ pieces transcribed by Liszt is the heart of disc 3. The concerto is effectively conducted by Fernand Oubradous, and Lefebure performs with depth and soul. The Liszt transcription of the Fugue in A minor S 543 is especially impressive.

Music by French composers constitutes the bulk of disc 4. Ravel’s Violin Sonata in G with Jeanne Gautier is handled with delicacy and humor, and Debussy’s rarely heard ballet Box of Toys allows Lefebure to handle the subtleties of the narrative with a special joy (it is heard here with French narration). The Dukas Rameau Variations and Roussel Three Pieces, Op. 49, are treasures of French insouciance coupled with elegance.

Very non-French is the single Chopin Mazurka that closes the disc. Pierre Dervaux gets off to a somewhat clumsy start with the French Radio Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto but rapidly improves to a stunningly warm and rapturous traversal. Mozart’s Concerto 20 contrasts most positively with Furtwängler’s glassy-sounding Berlin account.

-- American Record Guide

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 5
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Profil
    • UPC/Barcode: 881488210415
    • Item Number: PH21041