Jean Fournet was already one of the best-known French conductors when on 12 November 1950 he made his debut with the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Three days later he made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he stepped in for Eduard van Beinum, whose recorded legacy is extensively reissued on Eloquence.
Newly remastered and issued internationally for the first time, his complete Concertgebouw recordings reveal a conductor handling with experience and sympathy an orchestra whose members were, for most of the sessions,coming to terms with the sudden death of a much-loved music director. As Niek Nelissen’s booklet essay recounts in documentary detail, drawing on the Concertgebouw’s own archives, Fournet conducted the orchestra’s first concerts after its formal obsequies for Van Beinum, and then took over sessions in which the late chief had been due to record the suites from Grieg’s incidental music to Peer Gynt. This was followed the following day by a remarkably fluent account of Borodin’s atmospheric tone-poem In the Steppes of Central Asia, and a marvellously refined Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune led, as it were, from the first flute solo by Hubert Barwahser, who distinguishes many Concertgebouw recordings of the time.