The 2nd CD - part of the 3 CD Anniversary Box - spotlights selected instrumental first-prize Winners from 1939-1959 (Part I). Some of these prize-winners - Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Maurice André, Martha Argerich, Heinz Holliger and Aurèle Nicolet - have embarked on fulminant careers since their CIEM win. On this recording you hear them in interpretations of works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Conrad Beck, Robert Oboussier, Scarlatti, André-François Marescotti, Jacques Ibert, Henri Tomasi, Lszt and Alessandro Marcello.
The International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva CIEM celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1989. Over the past half century, this prestigious event has achieved increasing worldwide renown and has launched many unknown but highly talented performers on their way to brillant international careers. Since 1982, the Transcription Service of Swiss Radio International has issued an annual album in its Musica Helvetica series, featuring highlights from competition perfomances by prizewinners in Geneva. Besides these albums also present to a wider listening public the music of Swiss composers prominently featured in the Geneva competition.
This anniversary presentation comprises 3 recording editions with highlights from the Geneva competition since it was first held in 1939. The 1st recording presents the 50th anniversary edition "Lyrical Art Competition on operatic work", along with archive excerpts by prizewinning vocal performances since 1939. The 2nd and 3rd editions are throughoughly archive recordings (from 1939-1959 and from 1962-1989 respectively) by prizewinning instrumental performers.
The CIEM Geneva Story
In 1939 Swiss composer Henri Gagnebin and Frédéric Liebstoeckl founded the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva. After Second World war it soon became one of the world's most prestigious competitions. The inaugural competition included seven categories (bassoon, voice, clarinet, flute, oboe, piano and violin) and was carried through in two stages. The final concert was broadcast by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and by the National Broadcasting Corporation in New York.
The Geneva competition has contunially profited from a close co-operation with leading musicians and orchestras. Eminent Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (along with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande) was an ardent advocate of the competition, often appearing on the rostrum himself to accompany young performers.
The collaboration with outstanding musicians also extends to the jury. Over fifty highly respected specialists are involved in the evaluation process each year. They make a major contribution to the outstanding international reputation of the CIEM.
The promotion of Swiss music has also always been one of the primary goals of the Geneva competition. The set selection of pieces from which candidates choose always includes music by Swiss composers (specially commissioned in co-operation with the Swiss Musician's Association). Over 150 new works have been composed specifically for the competition (including Frank Martin, Heinz holliger, Willy Burkhard etc.).
The city and canton of Geneva and the Swiss Federal government have supported the Geneva competition since its inception. Additional support of eminence was provided by major companies.
1st Prize for Piano 1939 - Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was born in Brescia (Italy) in 1920. He studied theory at the Venturi Institute in Brescia, and piano at the Milan Conservatory under Giuseppe Anfossi. At age 19 he won the First Prize at the CIEM, then held for the first time, performing Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto. After completing his studies at the Martini Conservatory in Bologna, he was embarking on an brillant international career. He founded the international Piano Academy in Brescia, where students work in "experimental" studios of the most advanced design and technology. In 1968 Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli settled in Switzerland. His rare performances span from Baroque to post-Romantic. He died in Lugano (Switzerland) in 1995.
1st Prize 1946 for Violin - Riccardo Brengola
Brengola was born in Naples in 1917 and only 11 years old when he won a diploma at the Casablanca Conservatory. He later studied under Arrigo Serato at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome. During his following international career Riccardo Brengola has also been a conductor.
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy himself said that his violin concerto should not be "overpoetised" when performed. In this rendering, Brengola gives an intelligent interpretation of the clarity of Mendelssohn's masterpiece of Romanticism. In the most detached passages, as well as in the most legato, he demonstrate a superb litghtness of line.
1st Prize for Horn 1948 - Gilbert Coursier
Born at Cavaillon (France), Gilbert Coursier studied under Jean Devemy at the Conservatoire National Supérieure in Paris. After winning the CIEM, he became solo horn player at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique and at the Paris Opera. For 20 years he was a member of the French Wind Quintet performing extensively abroad.
Swiss composer Conrad Beck (1901-1989) was born at Lohn/Schaffhausen. He studied at the Zurich Conservatory, and in last century's 20ties in Paris with Jacques Ibert. Thereby he was greatly encouraged by Nadia Boulanger, Arthur Honegger and Albert Roussel. Back in Switzerland he became Head of Music at Radio Basel and exerted a major influence on the broadcasting and promotion of contemporary music in particular. Conrad Beck's prolific creativity was marked by the rejection of post-Romanticism. His desire to express subjective sentiment was tempered by Latin principles of composition.
1st Prize for Flute 1948 - Aurèle Nicolet
Born in Neuchâtel in 1926. Aurèle Nicolet studied in Zurich under André Jamet and Willy Burkhard, and at the Paris Conservatory with Marcel Moyse and Yvonne Drappier. He was twice a winner at the CIEM Geneva (1942 and 1948). During his extensive international career, he has been soloist with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, and with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (under Furtwängler, Celibidache and Karajan). Many composers have written works for Aurèle Nicolet, notably Denisov, Takemitsu, Kelterborn and Halffter.
Robert Oboussier (1900-1957) was born in Antwerp. His studies led him to Heidelberg, Mannheim and Zurich. Besides composing he was a music critic of eminence. His musical contributions appear to be a continuation of a certain Romanticism, but the dodecaphonist technique totally transformed his compositions. "Pavane and Galliard for Flute and Piano" is marked by a kind of liberated declamation inscribed with elegance in a binary rhythm.
1st Prize for Piano 1949 - Maria Tipo
Born in Naples in 1931, Maria Tipo studied initially under her mother, the pianist Ersilla Cavallo, and gave her first public performance at the age of only four. She subsequently studied under Alfredo Casella and Guido Agosti, winning 2nd Prize at the Geneva Competition in 1948 and First Prize one year later. Besides her international career as a pianist became teacher at the conservatories of Bolzano and Geneva. Notably of Bach and Beethoven she has made many recordings. On Domenico Scarlatti her perfromance succeeds in releasing the expressive colours and modulations which are major features of his distinctive dynamism.
1st Prize for Bassoon 1949 - Maurice Allard
Born at Sin-Le-Noble (France), Maurice Allard studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he obtained his first award in 1940. From 1945-1948 he was a member of the French Wind Quintet. After his win in Geneva in 1949, he was engaged as principal soloist with the Orchestre de l'Opéra in Paris. In 1957 he became professor at the Conservatoire Supérieure de Paris. He performed many concerts written for the bassoon, including those of Brown, Jolivet, Gotkovski, Landowski and Tomasi.
André-François Marescotti work "Giboulées (Showers), Fantasia for Bassoon and Piano", is characterised by poetry and mystery, reflecting the important on himself of such French composers as Chabrier, Ravel and Poulenc. The sprightly rhythms, lively colours, delicacy and brilliance of composition, lend the bassoon a lightness and agility of expression.
1st Prize for Saxophone 1952 - Michel Nouaux
Born at Achicourt/Pas de Calais (France) in 1924, Michel Nouaux studied at the Paris Conservatory under Marcel Mule. He joined the "Garde Républicaine" in Paris and, after his win at the CIEM in 1952, became leader of the Garde's Saxophone Quartet. He besides became appointed soloist in a number of major French orchestras.
Jacques Ibert's "Concertino da camera" is typical for its French temperament, displaying easy elegance, free creativity and brilliant fantasy. The impact of jazz and its syncopated rhythms is much in evidence. So too is the influence of Roussel and Stravinsky.
1st Prize for Trumpet - 1955 - Maurice André
Maurice André was born at Alès/Gard (France) and began studying the trumpet at the age of 14. In the following two years he won the "Prix d'Honeur" and the First Prize for trumpet at the Paris Conservatory. In 1955 he won the Geneva's CIEM, in 1963 the Munich competition. From then he held solo trumpeter posts in some of France's most eminent orchestras. Besides he has performed the world's major concert stages, and since 1957 has been professor at the Paris Conservatory. Maurice André has made more than 250 recordings. Several composers (including Tomasi, Jolivet, Landovski and Eloy) have dedicated works to him.
Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) was a brilliant orchestrator, influenced by Ravel. He sought his creative inspiration in medieval and Renaissance sources, as well as in coloured forms of exotism. Along with Messiaen, Duruflé and Loucheur, he was influenced by a certain revival of spirituality. The "Concerto for Trumpet" has a certain clarity of orchestration and subtle harmonies, combined with classic discreetness. It demands a certain intensity of interpretation. André's sparkling performance is of lavish colour, his attacks are supple yet dynamic.
1st Prize for Piano 1957 - Martha Argerich
Born in Argentina in 1941, Martha Argerich began playing at the age of only four. After initial studies with Vincenzo Scaramuzza, she worked in Vienna under Friedrich Gulda and in Geneva under Madeleine Lipatti and Nikita Magaloff. In 1957, at age 15, she won the competitons both in Bolzano and Geneva. Her following international career she interrupted for further intensified studies with Stefan Askenase and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Thereafter she resumed her public performances and recording activities with renewed brilliance. Her repertoire spans from Romantic to Prokofiev, Ravel and Stravinsky.
Despite the difficulty of Franz Liszt' "Hungarian Rhapsody no. 6", Argerich here demonstrates her seemingly effortless virtuosity. Her performance is remarkable for its highly consistent quality, revealing a rare intensity of touch and exquisite tone technique. These are further enhanced by her colourful creativity and energetic attack.
1st Prize for Oboe 1959 - Heinz Holliger
Born in Langenthal (Switzerland) in 1939. Holliger studied in Berne under Sandor Veress (composition), Emile Cassagnaud (oboe) and Sava Savoff (piano). Additional studies followed in Paris with Pierre Pierlot (oboe) and Yvonne Lefébure (piano), and at Basel under Pierre Boulez (composition). After winning the CIEM Geneva (1959) and the Munich Competition (1961), he embarked upon an exceptional international career as soloist. Besides his remarkable capabilities as a oboist, he is considered one of the leading composers for this instrument. Besides he is teaching the oboe at the Freiburg-im-Breisgau Music Academy in Germany. Alessandro Marcello's "Oboe Concerto in C minor" possesses a majestic quality and consistency, and enjoys popular preference among oboe performers.
Ernest Ansermet and The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR)
Ernest Ansermet was the driving force of musical life in Geneva and a founder-member of the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva.
The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande was founded by Ansermet in 1918 (its conductor for more than 50 years) and quickly became one of the world's leading orchestras. For half a century it has played a major role in the ever-increasing acclaim enjoyed by this unique event in the world of classical music.
International Competition For Musical Performers Geneva, 50th Anniversary 1939-1989. Selected First-Prize Winners 1939-1959, Instrumental - Part I. Musica Helvetica MH CD 74.2. Produced by Patrick Linder and Andreas Lüthi.