If Gabriel Pierné the conductor of the Concerts Colonne had not turned down Sergei Diaghilev’s invitation, albeit with disappointing strings attached (it was simply to rehearse the show before some favored Russian conductor turned up in Paris), Pierre Monteux, an associate of Pierné’s, would not have found himself conducting the world premiere of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka in 1911. Stravinsky liked Monteux’ rehearsing so much — the young Monteux had, of course, gleefully jumped at the lowly assignment — he decided to declare the originally-scheduled maestro redundant.

Pierné’s career remained essentially local while Monteux’ became international. But Pierné was no slouch: a pupil of Franck, he succeeded that master as organist at Ste-Clotilde, and piloted the Colonne for many years, until the advent of Paul Paray, turning out those Sunday concerts at the Chatelet theater across from the Seine and not many steps from good old Benoit (“since 1912”), that wonderful Lyonnais bistro so filled these days with Americans to whom the elderly but handsome chef patiently explains virtually his full menu.

Pierné is not much more than a footnote here, I’ve only achieved a gramophonic glimpse of him, including that strange animal a three-sided version (we’re talking “78” sides, of course) of Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture. The extra grooves are required by Pierné’s unusually slow tempo – pedantic seeming at first, then it adds up as a beguiling mix of grandeur and delicacy – for the opening section with its celebrated solo for English horn. Berlioz’ marking is andante sostenuto, with an espressivo thrown in alongside mf: well, a request for espressivo can excuse a lorry-full of delectable interpretive sins.

I’m not altogether convinced Pierné was as graceful a conductor as his faithful first viola the young Monteux would become. Sometimes his abrupt and oldstyle Gallic compartmentalizations of adjacent musical clauses, watertight indeed, seem to stamp him as “Not for Export.” But he was an interesting conductor for sure, and sometimes a fascinating one. His Chabrier Fete Polonaise (2-10-31) really kicks up its heels, his spacious, soulful Roi d’Ys Overture of Lalo (6-10-30) is centered on a floating, long-breathed cello solo of distinction, and there’s also a convincing account of Stravinsky’s brief Fireworks, indicating that Pierné was scarcely the wrong man to be involved with Petrouchka.

The hit of this small catch is a Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (2-10-30). It comes on more as a game, a jeu, than the quasi-siesta of Leopold Stokowski’s NBC and LSO broadcasts with their three extra minutes of after-lunch poetry. Pierné’s Colonne ensemble releases a school of amorous and almost giddily playful woodwinds, catch-us-if-you-can. A very pastoral performance this is, quite intense, athletic; the second half is absolutely drenched in a sort of sweaty shimmer, as if maybe the faun were just in from a set of tennis on the villa lawn. Calling Jean Renoir!