A chronological CD-discography of Christian Ferras

Wow. Mission accomplished. I’ve just published my great CD-discography of French violinist Christian Ferras (1933-1982). I thought it would be a quick escapade from this other discography I’ve been working on, of the three labels of historical recordings from EMI-France, “Les Introuvables”, “Les Rarissimes” and “Les Pianistes français”. One of the installments in the “Introuvables” collection was a valuable Christian Ferras 4-CD set (2002), which I’ve reviewed, and, checking on previous and subsequent reissues, I decided to go ahead and order the two recent sets from DG, “L’Art de Christian Ferras”, 10 CDs DG 480 6655 (2012) (with almost all his DG recordings) and from Warner, “Christian Ferras The Complete HMV & Telefunken Recordings”, 13 CDs Warner Icon 9029576308 (2017). I already had most of the material gathered on these two sets, but scattered between numerous CDs and sets, plus, the two sets offered a few “firsts-on-CD” (like Serge Nigg’s Violin Concerto for the DG set – which I have on LP -, or a 1962 recording of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 1 on the Warner set, plus the Telefunken recordings) that made them attractive to me. So, with (almost) all his DG recordings and all his EMI and Telefunken recordings in my collection, plus a number from Decca, I thought it’d be a good idea to do this discography. Moreover, foolish me, I thought I had most of the necessary information with me already, either from the CDs themselves, or from the Ferras discography compiled by French violin specialist Jean-Michel Molkhou and included in the DG set, and also available online on the website of Association Christian Ferras. But why – did I object to myself – make an online discography when there was one already, and pretty complete, it seemed? Well, first – did I reply to my self-objection – because I wanted to do it chronologically rather than alphabetically. I find that there is a special interest to chronologically-ordered discographies, as they give you a glimpse to the artist’s recording and artistic career. Second, because Molkhou’s discography provides only label numbers, not barcodes. I insist, again and again, that given the shambles that most of them are, it has become almost impossible to find a specific CD on your favorite online webstore if you don’t have the barcode. A discography without barcodes is no more than an abstract list of numbers; what’s the interest? What’s the use of a discography if it doesn’t enable you to find the damned CDs? Just make you drool with envy, without ever being able to actually locate the object of your desire? And there were other reasons still that, I thought (and still think) lent legitimacy to my own effort, which I detail in the discography’s introduction.

So there I went, on (what I thought would be) my quick discographic work. Well, it turned out that:

a. locating some of the CDs referenced by Molkhou and/or other online discographies was hell (and in one case, I failed – but in so many cases, I succeeded, against the odds). Pretty easy when the label number is part of the barcode: when you know the barcode’s syntax, it’s easy to guess it from the label number – although, even with that, I was never able to find that one reference mentioned by Molkhou and spent hours on it (I know what the barcode should be: 724347191923; and I’ve been able to locate CDs with adjacent barcode numbers; but hours of searches on both barcode and label number yielded nothing online, the eternal silence of infinite spaces). But sometimes there is no relation between label number and barcode. I shouted in triumph (and relief), very late at night, when finally I found EMI Eminence CD-EMX  2178, barcode 077776406527. I had the two adjacent label numbers, EMX 2177 (077776404622) and EMX 2179 (077776411422), because both are listed on Discogs.com,…

…but WHERE WAS THE DAMNED EMX 2178 hiding? And it’s not like they were just following each other in the barcode sequence, to make my life easy. From O4622 to 14222, you’ve got 96 barcodes to check. I was lucky in my decision to start from 046 and go forward, rather than 142 and go backwards…

(Addendum 12 June: And, since I found it, and it was cheap, I went ahead and bought it, so – breaking news from 1991 ! – I can now triumphantly provide the cover photos! And I’ve done my good deed of the day, and listed it on Discogs.)



Likewise, I decided that I was finally done and it was time to publish the disography, when I was able to find (another middle-of-the-night outburst) the barcode of Originals SH 846 (an Italian label, a 1995 publication with Ferras’ only extant performance of Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, under Dean Dixon). In truth, I had given up upon it, but that little indication in parantheses, “barcode not found”, itched. That’s when, the other night, I chanced on eBay on another release from the same label, SH 827, which at least gave me the general “syntax” of the barcode, 01166290XXXY. No relation with the label number, alas, but still, it seemed pretty easy, 846 minus 827, that’s 19 numbers, so relevant barcode should be 19 numbers up, right? Wrong, because that barcode is used for a number of different Italian labels that I usually categorize as junk, Gramofono, Radio Years, Entreprise, AS Disc, and usually terribly badly listed, with gaps that I didn’t know if they were truly gaps, or just my CD listed nowhere online and I was inadvertently skipping it. There again I was able to reduced the range of research by locating the adjacent label numbers, SH 844, 845, 847, 848… But still no Ferras (turned out that the actual barcode was not in incremental sequence…)! It didn’t help that most of these releases were listed on Amazon not under their proper barcode, but under the barcode of their distributor, Allegro Import (I’ve seen a backcover photo of one of them with the Allegro sticker covering the “legitimate” barcode). I did help however that many of the listings on Amazon offered a backcover photo with the legitimate barcode. That unfortunately did not seem to get me any closer to my Ferras CD, because that collection/barcode series is very elusive online,  quark-like, rarely there when you expect they should, possibly because only 3000 copies of each were pressed. I was going as far as Yahoo auctions Hong-Kong and finding nothing, it was getting late, I was getting exhausted, I was giving up, and in the last resort, before shutting down, I just typed “Ferras Prokofiev Dixon”. I could have done that to start with (in fact, I think I did, but it must have been “Beethoven Prokofiev Ferras”. And that yielded. Of all places, on Amazon.fr. Shout of triumph and relief. It’s like looking for something all around the world and it turns out it had always been under your bed…

Bottom line: discographers, give us the barcodes and spare our time!

b. …and it turned out also that Molkhou’s discography, although pretty abundant, is far from complete. There’s the additional info I have in my own lists of labels (like the erswhile Dutch Disky), the info I found on the Amazons, Discogs and various other websites. Moreover, searches on the Japanese websites, Amazon.co.jp and Tower.jp, yielded piles of CDs – even Western editions – that did not show up on the Western websites. Boy was I happy when I chanced on PECO SSCD 003 (a tricky one because, though published in 1998, came with no barcode)! Felt like the patient fisherman reeling in a monster carp…

So with all that, I can say without, I think, excessive bragging, that I’ve published the most complete and, I hope, useful Ferras discography so far. It was a lot of work: I began on May 6. Hope you enjoy, and benefit.

Now I need to complete my discography of Introuvables Rarissimes Pianistes français….

1 thought on “A chronological CD-discography of Christian Ferras”

  1. Bravo for your work. I’m so desperate for information sometimes that I’ll gratefully accept any discography and then spend time searching. By the way, your review of the Harris symphony 7 conducted by the composer help me by alerting me to the Bay Cities release. I spent five dollars instead of fifty dollars thanks to your link.

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