This Cypres CD was recorded in 2009 and quietly released in 2011; there might have been more of a fanfare in Belgium, I suppose, but I have not come across much in the way of reviews, so here goes. The disc features the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, conducted by FranÁois-Xavier Roth (a new name to me) and, as appropriate, the well-known Cédric Tiberghien on piano. The CD comes in a digipack, is accompanied by decent notes, and has been produced in splendid sound. Maybe the Belgian orchestra isn't the Berlin Philharmoniker, but I find the performances excellently played and entirely idiomatic.
I think that, in some quarters, the music of César Franck is rather looked down upon (he isn't the worshipped Mahler, after all), but I, for one, thoroughly enjoy much of his music. The disc contains Les Éolides; arguably the first work of Franck's "third period" (from 1875-76 onwards until his death in 1890). The piece is a musical illustration of a poem by Leconte de Lisle, and its mood is quite unlike that of the majority of Franck's works, being less in earnest, freer, and more melodic. It's comparable to Rimsky-Korsakov's Schéhérazade.
Le Chasseur Maudit is a conventional tone-poem, with a German romantic programme treated in a Lisztian manner and far less original than the best of Saint-SaŽns's tone poems. The orchestration is thick, with a preponderance of brass; and the knight who was dragged down to hell for preferring hunting to church-going on Sunday is not, in Franck's hands, a very convincingly villainous figure.
With Les Djinns, on the other hand, Franck was breaking new ground. The piano concerto had become increasingly a show-piece, and Franck's conception of a work in which the piano should collaborate with the orchestra, without dominating it, was new and represented a wholly healthy instinct. The emotional content of the work is typically Franckian, for it depicts the struggle between "light" and "darkness" in which the Djinns represent the evil instincts of man, finally overcome by the power of prayer and that mystical, luminous, instinctive faith which was Franck's greatest quality. It's a great piece.
The Variations symphoniques are full of conflict, because of the double subject - it's very well done here.
This CD, which runs for 53'16, is highly recommended.
With thanks to an article written in 1951 by Martin Cooper.Read more ›