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Françaix: Orchestral Music CD


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£14.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Françaix: Orchestral Music + Jean Françaix: L'Horlage de Flore; Trio; Quartets
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Product details

  • Conductor: Thierry Fischer
  • Composer: Jean Françaix
  • Audio CD (22 Mar 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000063TSL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,398 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

CD Description

The gentle urbane art of Jean Francaix, at once freshly engaging and invariably distinguished by an unerring sense of style, has endeared itself to successive generations of musicians and music-lovers. His death in 1997 at the age of 85 removed from contemporary music one of its most immediately appealing and distinctly Gallic masters. This alluring orchestral music undulates between the dreamy and the dramatic, exemplifying Francaix's attractive use of sound colour and harmonies. The Scuola di Ballo, a ballet in one act, is based on music by Boccherini, largely from his quintets. The Pavane pour un Génie vivant was written to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Ravel's death, and the Symphonie was written in Haydn's memory. The Sérénade has neoclassical overtones, and the Ouverture anacréontique attempts to portray an imaginary world, without wars, in which all is well. The content therefore is largely retrospective, but remains charismatically original throughout. Compelling listening, enthusiastically and empathetically played by the Ulster Orchestra, under Thierry Fischer.

Review

'An hour of pure joy' (BBC Music Magazine) 'Again and again while listening to Thierry Fischer's ebullient performances I smile and wish that I had met Jean Françaix' (Gramophone) 'The Ulster Orchestra sound captivated by this music, as well they might … pure pleasure from beginning to end' (International Record Review) 'This collection serves to remind us what 20th-century joys can be found away from the fashionable modernists. The Ulster players may not actually be French, but they fooled me. An utter delight' (The Times) 'The Ulster Orchestra has acquired a deserved reputation for the strength of its sectional work and the quality of its soloists, both aspects of performance that come to the fore in Françaix … Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA) 'thoroughly entertaining and immensely intelligent' --( The Evening Standard)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 Jan 2004
Format: Audio CD
Composer Ned Rorem has compared the French, whom he prefers, and who in his view are 'profoundly superficial,' with the Germans, whom he sees as 'superficially profound.' His description of the French applies with startling appositeness to the music of Jean Françaix. Françaix himself recasts Sacha Guitry's famous maxim, 'Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas français' ('That which is not clear is not French') as 'Ce n'est pas clair n'est pas de Françaix' ('That which is not clear is not by Françaix.') Influenced by Ravel and Les Six, Françaix (1912-1997) unfailingly wrote in a limpid style informed by more than a touch of the refined esthetic found so consistently in Ravel's music. Yet, like Ravel's, his music has a hidden sensuality that, when discovered, is seductive and addicting, at least to me.
Most of Françaix's music has a light, often droll character. He was one of the first to use what has become, with many modern composers, neoclassic eclecticism; he borrows liberally from styles of the past. His 'Sérénade', written in 1934 and included here, anticipates the similar style Stravinsky used in his 'Dumbarton Oaks Concerto' and 'Jeu de cartes.' Entirely winning, this little 9-minute suite uses the varying meters and tongue-in-cheek sassiness made so familiar by Stravinsky.
The Symphony in G Major, the third of Françaix's symphonies (none of them is numbered, however) is most easily described as a marriage of Haydn and Stravinsky (Harold Shapero's 'Symphony for Classical Orchestra' comes to mind). I is jaunty, II pensive, III has wheeze-box alternating chords reminiscent of those in 'Petrouchka' and includes a three-legged tango. IV, a saucy Allegro, is the most Haydnesque but goes delightfully far afield harmonically.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By os TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Mar 2013
Format: Audio CD
If you want to have a disc your in collection for those moments when something relaxing, airy and charming then this beautiful collection is a must buy. The music has a lightness of touch, the melodies and orchestrations a warmth and sophistication allied to occasional sense of depth that will readily beguile even the most stoney hearted of listeners. At first hearing Francaix's music seems to have the quality of pastiche, but on further investigation there is revealed a subtlety of character and intriguing use of musical resources that suggest an original thinker is at work here.This is light French music and all that implies, not light-weight French music,fit only for background listening.

A highly enjoyable release from Hyperion. The orchestra play completely idiomatically, alive to the wit and litheness of Francaix's conception and beautifully recorded into the bargain. There is so much to enjoy in this set,my particular favourite 'Ouverture Anacreontique', a beautifully melancholic little piece that hints at deeper feelings then it is ready to disclose to the casual listener.Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Like a Long Draft of Icy Spring Water on a Hot Summer Day 25 Jan 2004
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Composer Ned Rorem has compared the French, whom he prefers, and who in his view are 'profoundly superficial,' with the Germans, whom he sees as 'superficially profound.' His description of the French applies with startling appositeness to the music of Jean Franç'aix. Fran'çaix himself recasts Sacha Guitry's famous maxim, 'Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas fran'çais' ('That which is not clear is not French') as 'Ce n'est pas clair n'est pas de Fran'çaix' ('That which is not clear is not by Franç'aix.') Influenced by Ravel and Les Six, Fran'çaix (1912-1997) unfailingly wrote in a limpid style informed by more than a touch of the refined esthetic found so consistently in Ravel's music. Yet, like Ravel's, his music has a hidden sensuality that, when discovered, is seductive and addicting, at least to me.

Most of Franç'aix's music has a light, often droll character. He was one of the first to use what has become, with many modern composers, neoclassic eclecticism; he borrows liberally from styles of the past. His 'Sé'r'énade', written in 1934 and included here, anticipates the similar style Stravinsky used in his 'Dumbarton Oaks Concerto' and 'Jeu de cartes.' Entirely winning, this little 9-minute suite uses the varying meters and tongue-in-cheek sassiness made so familiar by Stravinsky.

The Symphony in G Major, the third of Fran'çaix's symphonies (none of them is numbered, however) is most easily described as a marriage of Haydn and Stravinsky (Harold Shapero's 'Symphony for Classical Orchestra' comes to mind). I is jaunty, II pensive, III has wheeze-box alternating chords reminiscent of those in 'Petrouchka' and includes a three-legged tango. IV, a saucy Allegro, is the most Haydnesque but goes delightfully far afield harmonically.

'Ouverture anacré'ontique' is an 11-minute ode to wine, women and song. (Anakreon was the Greek poet who wrote poems on those most convivial of subjects.) Lushly scored string-based love songs alternate with lively wind-dominated passages suggesting dancing and drinking.

'Scuolo di Ballo' is the earliest work here, written for a ballet based on a tale by Goldoni and using many quotations from the string quintets of Luigi Boccherini, the 18th-c. Italian cellist and composer who virtually invented the two-cello quintet. The longest work here at 25-minutes, this is quintessential neoclassic ballet music that limns a tale of rivalry amongst members of a ballet company. One of them is a klutz, and the music amusingly depicts her clumsiness, as well as the swooning pas de deux of the prima ballerina and her partner.

The most moving piece here--probably 'moving' is not a word often associated with the usually insouciant Fran'çaix--is the 4-minute, pointedly-titled 'Pavane pour un G'énie vivant' ('Pavane for a Living Genius') written in 1987 and dedicated to Ravel on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Modeled closely on Ravel's famous and well-loved 'Pavane pour une infante d'éfunte' ('Pavane for a Dead Princess') and using an oboe theme, much slowed down, that is the opening motif of Ravel's 'Tombeau de Couperin,' -- Ravel's own work of homage -- this lovely work manages to tug at the heartstrings while causing one to marvel at the craft and skill involved in this deeply felt tribute to two of Franç'aix's musical predecessors.

Thierry Fischer, the accomplished Swiss-French conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, conducts with much finesse and nuance, and his orchestra--surely becoming one of the 'majors' of the recording industry--repay him with adroit and silken playing.

Strongly recommended. And with a recommendation that you seek out other recordings of Fran'çaix's music whose music, sometimes disparaged as 'slight,' never fails to please. I'm particularly fond of an issue on Wergo entitle 'Musique pour faire plaisir' ('Music to give you pleasure') and another with the harpsichord concerto. He also wrote a wonderful, much more serious oratorio called 'L'Apocalyse selon Saint-Jean' ('The Apocalypse According to Saint John').

TT=70:25

Scott Morrison
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Charming and Witty Music 1 Oct 2002
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am familiar with the music of Jean Francaix (1912 - 1997), so this disc was one that I had on my list to buy at once. The works are from various parts of his career. Of the works played here, I was familiar with the Serenade (from 1934), which I heard many years ago on an old LP. I was pleased to see it included here. Francaix's music reminds me in a aural sense of the painting of Henri Matisse: they are like a good armchair to a tired businessman. His music is light and charming but also well written, filled with delicate rhythms and subtle shadings.
The symphony played here is actually Francaix's third and last (written in memory of Joseph Haydn in 1953); he did not number his symphonies. The symphony has a classical format in the four short movements but the music does not, like Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, attempt to recreate an 18th century sound. The Scuola di Ballet is based on the music of Boccherini and was choreographed by Leonide Massine. It has been a highly successful work and was first recorded in the 1930s. The work is neo-classical, much like Stravinsky's Pulcinella.
The Overture anacreontique is from 1978 and in this composition M. Francaix imagines a world without war. The Pavane pour un genie vivant dates from 1987 and is homage to Ravel to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. It is scored for a small orchestra and is evocative of Ravel's music.
The music is beautifully played and recorded. I have always found Francaix's music to be a delight. His music was popular in German where it was taken to represent the French character. Perhaps this best describes his works: charming, witty and sometimes profound.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Subtlety and Wit: Music of Jean Francaix 2 Feb 2008
By M. C. Passarella - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Some music makes its points so quietly and subtly that your first and maybe even third impression of it is "so what?" A case in point: the Symphony of Jean Francaix. Early mental notes that I made about it run something like "Reminds me of a melodically challenged Ravel." "If this is a tribute to Haydn, Haydn should be insulted." And indeed, as a symphony paying homage to Classical style and content, it initially seems lacking compared to that most famous of classical symphonies, No. 1 by Prokofiev. But give the Symphony time, and its special qualities emerge, not least the amazing bursts of Dionysiac energy lurking beneath the serene Apollonian surface of the first and last movements. At points, these movements erupt, bass drum and percussion briefly pounding away, and then subside into their predominantly quiet, divertimento-like demeanor. It is as if the composer suddenly wants to remind us that this is, after all, the raw, noisy, complicated 20th century, and welcome back to it.

As to the melodies or lack thereof--true, Francaix is not primarily a melodist. You will search these works in vain for the gracious airs that, say, Poulenc lavishes on his best-known work. But then Francaix is paying tribute to the Classical era and its reliance on short motives that can act as building blocks rather than ear-catchers. So, all things considered, this interesting Symphony is a worthy tribute to Haydn.

The attractive Serenade is closer in spirit to the cheekiness and irreverence of a Poulenc, Milhaud, or Ibert, at least in his Divertissement. It is sheer fun to listen too and yet with a dreamy, languid second movement that is highly distinctive, more than just fun.

I find the bland Ancreontic Overture the low point of the disc--you may have a different impression--while the high point for me, despite my appreciation of the Symphony, is "Scuola de Ballo." Here, Francaix arranges the music of Boccherini, and it is the combination of Boccherini's charming melodies and Francaix' witty, imaginative instrumentation that makes this a hit for me. In fact, if Boccherini's melodies were just a bit more memorable, this piece would be as well known Walton's "The Wise Virgins" or Respighi's "Boutique Fantasque." Then again, Francaix' music is on a higher plane, more in line with what Stravinsky achieved in "Pulcinella," which pretty much started the whole back-to-Bach movement. And I guess Francaix deserves credit for not pandering: he could, after all, have appropriated the famous Minuet or Fandango of Boccherini.

Fischer and his band do a superb job of capturing the subtle moods and distinctive colors of this music, and Hyperion provides a big and very handsome sound picture. So, Vive Francaix!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A very attractive release 18 Sep 2010
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Jean Francaix did, in fact, compose a couple of serious, dark works as well. Not a trace of that on this disc, though, which confirms the image of his music as generally light-hearted, elegantly buoyant, charming, witty, colorful and clever. It is thoroughly accessible and melodic, although Francaix doesn't shy away from some sardonic, brassy dissonances here and there. Rhythms are infectious and snappy, textures airy and stylish, the scoring is brilliant and - interestingly - there is almost no stylistic difference between the earliest works (from the thirties) and latest (from the eighties).

The ballet Scuola di Ballo is based on Boccherini's string quintets in a manner resembling Pulcinella; charming, diverting and always appealing even if it isn't, in the end, particularly memorable. There is a strong Stravinsky connection in the early Serenade as well, which seems to be influenced by a variety of Stravinsky works (the booklet notes mention Dumbarton Oaks). It is a collection of light and slight but thoroughly pleasant miniatures, sardonic and gleefully imitating (making fun of) contemporaneous music hall styles.

Even the symphony (from 1953) is cast in the same spirit and style. More an orchestral concerto, perhaps, it is an infectious work of high spirits and delight, although it comes across as slightly more profound than the rest of the disc (it is really wonderfully scored, of course). The two late works are attractive as well; the Ouverture anacréontique is the longest single movement on the disc and may, perhaps, slightly overstay its welcome, but the Pavane is an easy charmer. Performances are good throughout, though one could imagine more snap and sparkle; the sound is very fine, however. In short, a thoroughly pleasing disc of attractive music, even though nothing here is going to change your perception of Francaix, or of the world for that matter.
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