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Céliny Chailley-Richez (1884-1973)

Enescu's own performance of his Sonata No. 2 with pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez on R-149-42

Remington R-199-65.

Remington R-199-50.

Remington RLP 199-52.

French Columbia FC1058

R-199-95

Jacques Chailley - peinture 1942 par André Leconte.

Jacques Chailley as painted by André Leconte in 1942. Cover of the recording of his "Symphonie en sol mineur" played by "Orchestre National de l'O.R.T.F.", conducted by Jean Fournet (ACCORD Radio France ACC 140 074).
As a conductor, Jacques Chailley can be heard on Pathé ASTX 329 with music by Louis XIII Roi de France and Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

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FORGOTTEN RECORDS from France

French pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez accompanied violinist Georges Enesco and played under his direction concertos of J.S. Bach. She also accompanied violinist Helen Airoff, and recorded Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Op. 54 in Vienna for Remington Records.

Céliny Richez - in some publications her first name is spelled Céline - was born on May 15, 1884 in Lille, in the north of France. Her father, Emile Richez, was a head teacher and her mother, Léonie Galle, was from a musical family.
After her talent had been discovered, already at the age of ten Céliny started her studies at the Lille Conservatory (Conservatoire de Lille). After winning first prize for piano and solfège the following summer, the young pianist was admitted at the 'Conservatoire de Paris' (Paris Conservatory) where she studied with Stéphane Raoul Pugno (Paris, 1852 - Moscow, 1914), composer and famous Mozart pianist at the time.
In 1898 Céliny won first prize again and it is probable that she already met violinist Georges Enesco - whom she became to admire so much - in that same year or in the following year (1899) when the young Romanian won his first prize himself. This despite the fact that she only formed a duo with the famous violinist much later, from 1926 on.

She then studied harmony with professor Samuel Alexandre Rousseau (1853-1904). In order to be able to continue the studies, she took up teaching. Fortunately the city of Lille - as her biography tells us - gave her a yearly allowance of 1000 francs for a period of three years, which made studying easier.
Marcel and Céliny in the early years of their marriage.
Image courtesy Musica et Memoria/The Chailley Family (Edited by R.A.B.)

In 1907 Céliny met Marcel Chailley, the young violinist, who a few years earlier (in 1902), had won "Second Prize of the Paris Conservatory" and played next to Jacques Thibaud in the Concerts Colonne Orchestra.
Céliny and Marcel married in 1908. They had five children. Two of them - Jacques and Marie-Thérèse - became excellent musicians. Marie-Thérèse (1921-2001) was a violist.
Jacques Chailley (1910-1999) studied composition with Nadia Boulanger, Claude Delvincourt and Henri Büsser, and musicology with André Pirro, organist Yvonne Rokseth and - during his stay in Amsterdam at 'La Maison Descartes', the French cultural institute - he studied with Dutch musicologist Albertus A. Smijers (an expert on Dutch early music), and with Willem Mengelberg, conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Chailley is the author of 40,000 Years of Music which was published in 1961 at the time when he was a professor in musicology at the Sorbonne University (Paris).

Marcel Chailley had formed his own string quartet in 1905 with a.o. Armenian violoncellist Diran Alexanian. With Céliny at the piano the quartet became the Chailley-Richez Quintet. Céliny herself founded a Quintet of Strings and Piano of exclusively female performers which she led until 1947. And she often was a soloist with the Lamoureux and Concerts Colonne orchestras.

Although Marcel and Céliny both were performing artists - they both knew Camille Saint-Saëns and Céliny had played 'à quatre mains' on two pianos with the composer in Manchester in 1908 - they also were dedicated teachers. They took part in the cultural and musical life in Paris and during the years 1918/1919 in Brazil.
Céliny Chailley-Richez
Image courtesy Musica et Memoria/The Chailley Family (Edited by R.A.B.)

In their home in Paris they entertained the musicians and composers of the time and upcoming talents: violinist Ginette Neveu (1919-1949), pianist and composer Sviatoslav Stravinsky (1910-1994; "the son of Prince Igor" as he was referred to), violinist Giorgio Ciompi (1905-1956), Lola Bobesco (1920-2003), and Daniel Guilet who at first pursued a solo career and later founded the Guilet String Quartet with Henry Siegl, William Schoen and David Soyer and in 1955 founded The Beaux Arts Trio with pianist Menahem Pressler and cellist Bernard Greenhouse (the trio started recording for the Philips label in 1967; after Guilet retired in 1969 he was replaced by Isidore Cohen).
Among the visitors to the Chailley house were also violinist Serge Blanc, and violinist Denise Soriano (1916-2006) who married famous teacher Jules Boucherit; she made various recordings with pianist Magda Tagliaferro (who founded a piano school in Brazil).

For health reasons Marcel retired from his career as performer in 1926. In that same year Céliny started performing with Georges Enesco while Marcel dedicated himself now solely to teaching, he worked with Jacques Thibaud, and he assisted violin pedagogue Jules Boucherit. Marcel, who had been suffering from chronic asthma, died in 1936.
Céliny, an independent spirit, now more often performed with George Enesco with whom she formed a duo. (Near the end of her life she donated from her personal possession various scores with the maestro's annotations, and several photographs and documents to the Georges Enesco Museum in Bucarest.)

It is not for every musician to have an international career. Céliny Chailley-Richez was an eloquent performer, yet she preferred to determine her own life and destiny and did not pursue a career with a record company for which she had to sacrifice part of her family life.
There are not too many recordings left of her artistry. Recordings she made in the shellac era are practically forgotten. As for so many artists, the advent of the LP record presented new possibilities. As for Clara Haskil also the recording career of Céliny Chailley-Richez came rather late in life when she was in her sixties.

Around 1951 the recording of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A, Op. 54, was made in Vienna were her performance was probably broadcast by the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation - Oesterreichisher Rundfunk). It is probable that Marcel Prawy obtained the tape from the radio station. Conductor Robert Heger was not on the list of artists Prawy was working with. If the recording was a 'studio recording' produced by him, there would not have been time and money available to make more takes. Splicing was practically out of the question. But the performance of the Schumann Concerto with Mme Chailley-Richez and conductor Robert Heger shows fine music making. The dynamic contrasts suggesting drama and the varying tempi, do fully illustrate the art of the pianist. And she is quite Schumannesque in tempo and articulation. Céliny Chailley-Richez reveals clearly the different moods of Schumann and she distinguishes herself with some beautiful phrasing and 'jeu perlé'. Furthermore the second movement is poetic and well structured, while the finale has strength. And Robert Heger is an able conductor. The atmosphere is of a live performance.

Céliny Chailley-Richez and Georges Enesco at the time when they did the recordings of the Concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach in the early nineteen fifties.
Image courtesy Musica et Memoria/The Chailley Family (Edited by R.A.B.).

Examples of her qualities are technically much better recorded by Decca in a studio recording of works by César Franck and of work of her son Jacques Chailley. And there are the performances of the Piano Concertos of J.S. Bach conducted by Georges Enesco.
Enesco had taught in the USA and had performed and recorded in New York at various occasions before returning to Paris for good. He had recorded the Bach Sonatas and Partitas in New York. The recording of the Violin Sonatas of Schumann and Enesco's Second Sonata, with Céliny Chailley-Richez at the the piano, were probably made in Paris at the time when Enesco recorded his Octuor (Octet for Strings) for Remington Records. Violist Marie-Thérèse Chailley-Guiard, Céliny's and Marcel's daughter, was a member of the ensemble. The other players were violinists Robert Gendre, M.L.Ricros, F.Geyre, and D. Marchand; violist Colette Lequien; and cellists A. Remond and J. Brizard.

Both Céliny Chailley-Richez and Georges Enesco were independent artists, each choosing to go an individual way, rebellious in the sense of not accepting reigning standards beforehand, but always staying in the context of the classical domain. There were similarities between these individuals, even competitive traits in their characters which made their music making an experience but stood a deeper personal relationship in the way. They always met on the artistic level.
After the recordings of the Concertos for Clavier (Piano) and Orchestra of Johann Sebastian Bach with Enesco conducting 'L association des concerts de chambre de Paris', and after Georges Enesco had died in 1955, Céliny retired completely from public life. It was some twenty years later, in 1973, that Céliny Chailley-Richez passed away at the age of 88.


The Remington recordings of Céliny Chailley-Richez:


Remington R-149-42 - Enesco: Sonata No. 2 in F minor for Violin and Piano played by the composer and Céliny Chailley-Richez, piano - (the name of the pianist wrongly spelled as Chaillez-Riches; a
release on the Concerteum label of Enesco's Sonata could not be found)

Remington R-149-50 - Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 2 in D minor Op. 121. Georges Enesco, violin and Céliny Chailley-Richez, piano. Released in the Spring of 1952. A release on the Concerteum label of this performance could not be traced in 'Disques de longue durée - Catalogue complet permanent - automne 1955' (Long Playing Records - Complete current catalog - Fall 1955), which indicates that the performances of the Sonatas of Enesco and Schumann were not released in France or were deleted long before this catalog was printed.

Remington R-199-65 - Schumann: Piano Concerto Op. 54. Céliny Chailley-Richez, piano with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Heger (1886-1978), released in the Spring of 1952 (in France on Concerteum C-234).

Remington R-199-95 -Beethoven: Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 8, Helen Airoff, violin; coupled with Sonata No. 2 played by Erich Berg and Walter Schneiderhan (Concerteum C-225)

Recordings by Céliny Chailley-Richez for other labels:

Decca FST 153.640 - Franck: Prélude, Choral et Fugue, Chopin: Sonata No. 2. Céliny Chailley-Richez, piano.
Franck's Prelude, Choral and Fugue appeared on London TW 91145, USA and on Decca-Telefunken TW 91145 in Great Britain, but now coupled with "Missa solemnis a capella", a composition written by her son Jacques Chailley in 1947 and first performed at the Besançon Festival in 1955. The Decca TW 91145 was first released in the fall of 1956. Jacques Chailley's Symphony in G

Decca FAT-173053 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 & 5

Decca FAT-173050 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 & 7

Decca FAT-173119 - Bach: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 and Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra No. 3 with Françoise Le Gonidec

Decca FAT-173068 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 & 6

Decca FAT-173530 - Bach: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 8 coupled with Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with Jean-Pierre Rampal, flute, and Christian Ferras, violin
Decca FAT-173094 - Bach: Concertos for Two Pianos and Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2

Decca FAT-173097 - Bach: Concertos for Three Pianos and Orchestra No. 1 & 2 with Françoise Le Gonidec and Jean-Jacques Painchaud

Decca FAT-143.538 - Bach: Concerto for Four Pianos and Orchestra with Françoise Le Gonidec, Jean-Jacques Painchaud and Hélène Grimaud; a 10" record.

Symphonium 45 SV 67 (7" record) - Schumann: Scènes d'enfants (Kinderszenen)

Decca FM 133.705 (10") - Schumann: Kreisleriana (recorded around 1954)

Columbia GFX 121/3 (3 - 12" 78 RPM) - Enesco: Third Sonata for Violin and Piano ('dans le caractère roumain') with the composer at the piano. Later released on (Pathé-Marconi C 061-11637). See Neal's Historical Recordings.

There is also a private recording of works by Liadow and Biroulski (Jeux d'enfants), and there is a private recording made in 1952 and released by French Columbia in 1957 with Céliny Chailley-Richez and Georges Enesco performing Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 9, "Kreutzer" (Columbia FC1058).

In the years before World War II many Americans traveled to Europe to get the best possible musical education.
Violinist Joan Field (who, in the 1960s, recorded Violin Concertos by Bruch, Dvorak and Spohr for Telefunken), studied as a teenager at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris with Marcel Chailley and Jacques Thibaud, and attended master classes given by Georges Enesco.

Click here for a fragment of the Sonata of Cesar Franck played by Joan Field as a student in Paris, accompanied on the piano by Céliny Chailley-Richez.

During her stay she made a private recording of the Cesar Franck Sonata in d minor with pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez. The recording is engraved on an acetate Pyrol disc made for direct recording. Pyrol was located at 47, rue de l'Échat, Créteil, Télélephone GRA 48.90 (Gravelle). Like all acetates also the Pyrol discs are fragile. The base is zinc or aluminum and is covered with a resin on both sides. The disc is easily damaged by handling, temperature changes, and humidity. The details and label image were supplied by David Reskin, one of Joan Field's sons, who is looking for the best possible service to transfer the recording to the digital domain.

Written and researched by Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published on August 5, 2004

Various biographical data about Céliny Chailley-Richez provided by Dominique Chailley, Céliny Chailley-Richez's grandson.

For in-depth articles see Musica et memoria (http://www.musimem.com). Also browse 'biographies' and 'obituaires' of this excellent French site.


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