Lagniappe Volume 15

Blanche Selva

Blanche Selva


BLANCHE SELVA (1884–1942)


Partita for Keyboard No. 1 in B-flat, BWV 825
1. Praeludium 1:43
2. Allemande 1:24
3. Corrente 2:27
4. Sarabande 3:03
5. Menuet 1 and 2 2:25
6. Gigue 1:21
  4 May 1930; Columbia (WLX1020/23) D15234/5  


Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
7. Prelude 5:12
8. Chorale 6:13
9. Fugue 7:17
  4 June 1930; Columbia (LX1382/1387) LFX168/170  


10. Vers le mas en fête (No. 1 from “En Languedoc”) 7:06
  11 January 1929; Columbia (WLX793/794) 15140  
11. Les muletiers devant le Christ de Llivia (No. 4 from “Cerdaña”) 7:02
  11 January 1929; Columbia (WLX791/792) 15141  
12. Baigneuses au soleil 6:34
  7 January 1929; Columbia WLX771/772) 15142  


13. Sardana 5:05
  4 June 1930; Columbia (WL2302/2303) LF57  



Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
14. Prelude 4:09
15. Chorale 6:43
16. Fugue 7:08
  21 June 1937; Gramophone Company (2LA1761/1765) L1043/1045  


17. Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4 3:51
  21 June 1937; Gramophone Company (2LA1766) L1045  



Although Blanche Selva (Brive-la-Gaillarde, 1884–Saint-Amant-Tallende, 1942) was one of the most active and influential of French pianists during her lifetime, she left only a handful of recordings. This CD contains all of her solo discs. In addition, she recorded the Beethoven “Spring” and the Franck Violin Sonata in A Major with the Catalan violinist Joan Massia, also for French Columbia.

Launching her public career at age thirteen, Selva played a great deal of the standard piano repertoire (including the complete works of Bach and all thirty-two Beethoven sonatas), but was especially noted for her advocacy of contemporary French and Spanish composers. For example, she premiered the huge Sonata dedicated to her by Vincent d’Indy, plus various works of Roussel, Séverac, and others, and she premiered the Iberia suite of Albéniz. Selva’s association with Spain included the founding of her own music school in Barcelona. She also taught in Paris at the Schola Cantorum (beginning at age eighteen) as well as in Strasbourg and Prague.

Until her career was halted by paralysis in 1930, Selva divided her musical activity among performing, teaching, and writing. She published a series of volumes examining the physical aspects of piano technique, and also a historical examination of piano sonatas. In her last years, spent in semi-seclusion, she devoted much time to composition.


Cécile Boutet de Monvel, (Paris, 1864–Paris, 1940) was one of nine children, born into an artistically talented family with her maternal grandfather being the eminent tenor, Adolphe Nourrit, (1802-1839). Although she studied at the Paris Conservatory, it appears that she did not have a career as a concert pianist. She was a cousin of César Franck’s wife and was the composer’s pupil. At age seventy-three, she made only six sides, comprising Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, and a Chopin mazurka, which are practically unknown to collectors. One can only speculate as to how and why these recordings were made. Perhaps someone at the Gramophone Company knew her and recognized that in 1937, she was the only pianist alive who had studied with César Franck, and who could give a performance reflective of the composer’s own interpretation of the work. The performance has inaccuracies, but the wrong notes do not detract from the nobility of conception. It has weight without being ponderous, while her wide ranging contrasting dynamics and subtle use of the pedal, all make for fascinating listening.


Marston would like to thank the International Piano Archives at Maryland, Neal Kurz, Donald Manildi, and Jonathan Summers for their help with this release.