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Jean Françaix The Music for Solo Piano, Duo and Duet [3 CD Box] [Box set]

Martin Jones (piano) , Richard McMahon (piano) , Adrian Farmer (piano) , Jean Francaix , None Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Performer: Martin Jones (piano), Richard McMahon (piano), Adrian Farmer (piano)
  • Orchestra: None
  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Jean Francaix
  • Audio CD (9 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Nimbus Records
  • ASIN: B007PDD17E
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,082 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Jean Françaix, Scherzo
2. Jean Françaix, Cinq portraits de jeunes filles
3. Jean Françaix, Eloge de la danse
4. Jean Françaix, Sonate pour piano
5. Jean Françaix, Cinq 'Bis'
6. Jean Françaix, Danse des Trois Arlequins
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Jean Françaix, Huit danses exotiques (duo) - Martin Jones/Richard McMahon
2. Jean Françaix, 15 portraits d'enfants d'Auguste Renoir (duet) - Martin Jones/Adrian Farmer
3. Jean Françaix, Trois esquisses sur les touches blanches
4. Jean Françaix, La Promenade d'un Musicologue Eclectique
5. Jean Françaix, 'De la Musique avant tout chose'
6. Jean Françaix, Pour Jacqueline
Disc: 3
1. Jean Françaix, Si Versailles m'était conté...
2. Jean Françaix, Napoléon (duet) - Martin Jones/Adrian Farmer
3. Jean Françaix, Scuola di Ballo (duo) - Martin Jones/Richard McMahon

Product Description


It was always the heartfelt wish of Jean Francaix that his music should give enjoyment and pleasure to his listeners, and in this 3 CD collection of his music for piano he does just that. From the early For Jacqueline published at the age of ten to the Nocturne written when the composer was a sprightly 82, the good humour is ever-present virtually untroubled by any sense of melancholy. One could describe this music as neoclassicism without tears . Although sometimes the harmonies are jazzily spiced, there is never any of the sense of experimentation with multi-tonality than can at times make the music of Les Six so unsettling. To subject every piece on this comprehensive collection to a detailed analysis or criticism would be to break a butterfly on a wheel. It is best to highlight some pieces which bring particular pleasure. The Fifteen Portraits of children by Auguste Renoir, designed like many of the pieces here as teaching vehicles, open with a beautiful berçeuse which has all the charm of Faure s Dolly Suite but which at under a minute in duration is all too brief. The Three studies on the white notes, also designed as exercises for children, create evocative music from their very limitations, with a beautifully pensive second movement entitled La reveur pendant la lecon de piano. The pastiches which constitute La promenade d un musicologue eclectique bring some delightfully tongue in cheek touches: Handels grand opening gestures lead to a quicker passage which sounds rather like a version of Charlie is my darling, and Scarlatti gets gloriously mixed up with Mendelssohn and Beethoven. Françaix extracted the Hommage à Maurice Ravel from this suite and orchestrated it as Pavane pour un Génie vivant. The composer s highly satirical view of contemporary music in the next sketch is described in the booklet as too poisonous to be really amusing but its encapsulation of avant-garde absurdities in a span of just over two minutes is all too realistic and great fun as a result: a passage where the piano is tapped is drily marked maestoso, and the piece begins in silence with a brief meditation, right hand on the keys, left hand in Glenn Gould position. The resolutely twelve-tone Humphrey Searle got away with this sort of thing in his Hoffnung concert parodies such as Punkt Kontrapunkt; why should Françaix be denied his chance to join in the fun? The final section pokes sly fun at Adam s O holy night. The incredibly precocious suite For Jacqueline brings the survey of the music originally written for piano on the first two discs to an end. One notes that the composer s style really changed very little over the following seventy years although perhaps his very mild flirtation with harmonic astringency abated slightly over time. Certainly the Rock n Roll finale to the Eight exotic dances has very little sense of rock music about it, with much more kinship to Milhaud s Scaramouche for the same two piano medium. The most substantial work on these three discs is the 1960 Piano Sonata, which although it is less than ten minutes in duration is clearly meant to be taken seriously. The second movement Elegy is nicely judged. The work was dedicated to Idil Biret who recorded it at the time of the première when she was nineteen, and whose recording has been reissued. Jones obviously brings greater maturity and warmth to the score, and his recorded sound is superior. The final disc contains music from three of Françaix s film scores in piano arrangements, and these three suites are the longest pieces in the collection. Jones plays, as one would expect, with absolute precision and assurance and his partners in the works for two pianos or piano (four hands) match him stylishly. Here we have hours of harmless delight --Paul Corfield Godfrey,

All the music is played with dazzling wit and style by Martin Jones. Nimbus's sound is excellent throughout. The warmest possible recommendation. --Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, November 2012

About the Artist

Martin Jones has been one of Britain's most highly regarded solo pianists since first coming to international attention in 1968 when he received the Dame Myra Hess Award. The same year he made his London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and his New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and ever since has been in demand for recitals and concerto performances on both sides of the Atlantic.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
It is said that when Saint-Saëns died in 1921, the young Jean Françaix said to his musical parents "Don't worry, I will take his place". And with a compositional and transcriptions index of more than 200 works it is pretty clear that he certainly did his best to fulfil his promise. The centenary of his birth falls on the 23th of May 2012 and Nimbus has excelled itself in producing a three disc commemoration CD set which displays to the full the composer's skilled and frequently humorous output for solo piano as well as for piano duet and piano duo.

Reviewer Delius has already commented at length on several aspects of the works portrayed within this set and I can wholeheartedly agree with what he has said. The set is most enjoyable, though probably somewhat indigestible if listened to (a total of around 190 minutes) at one sitting, and has received most excellent recording. All 17 individual works, encompassing 100 separate movements, extensively cover a period in Françaix's creative writing for the keyboard ranging from 1932 until 1994. His writing is never dull and he is never slow to cock a snook at institutions or indeed individuals. However, his suite of pieces paying hommage to Handel, Chopin, Domenico Scarlatti, Ravel and Adolphe Adam are completely sincere in their tributes, although rapped around just one movement poking perhaps irreverent fun at some avant-garde music.

Excellent programme notes, only lacking perhaps in some English translations for those of us who left our school French classes behind far too many years ago, are arranged in chronological order though this clearly cannot be adhered to on the discs, which makes marrying up notes with the music at times a little trying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast of Francaix 8 May 2012
By Delius
Format:Audio CD
Well the man is truly irrepressible! Here is Martin Jones again, and once more it's a delve into repertoire which many recitalists choose to ignore.......albeit that this time he's not entirely on his own!

Having only just digested the second volume of his Mompou recordings here is a survey of the French composer Jean Francaix....and what a wonderful contrast. For Mompou's delicate colours and wistful nostalgia here in its place is delightful wit and exuberance, with a dose of gallic charm.

Disc 1 features Martin Jones alone, kicking off with his first mature work, a scherzo from the early 1930's, and concluding with maybe the nearest Francaix gets to his Spanish counterpart, the Nocturne of 1994. I particularly enjoyed the mid `30's "Cinq portraits de jeunes filles" on this disc, a charming cycle premiered by the composer in his home city of Le Mans.

Rhythmic emphasis, particularly dance, is prominent in much of the music, as it is in the works of many of his fellow countrymen. However being active in the C20 it's also perhaps unsurprising that the cinema played a significant role in his career too....a fact which becomes obvious by jumping on to disc 3 in this anthology.

"Si Versailles m'etait conte" is a transcription from a score for the 1953 film of that name. A history of the great palace of Louis XIVth, situated just beyond the boundaries of Paris, the film boasted a cast including Jean-Louis Barrault, Claudette Colbert, Edith Piaf, Brigitte Bardot and Orson Welles ! This is quickly followed by a suite from "Napoleon", in its turn adapted from a 1954 film, once again featuring a galaxy of talent - including Eric von Stroheim in one of his last roles as Beethoven no less !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Meals M
Format:Audio CD
This triple CD combines the wonders of the composer Jean Francaix with the talent of the pianist Martin Jones. Like falling rain in spring it caresses. Mediative and calming this is a great antidote to the stresses of life. Visit [...] and then listen to this. Medicine for the soul. It is also jaunty and uplifitng in places. A really fine addition to any library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful piano music! 9 May 2012
Format:Audio CD
I have already written elsewhere of my admiration for Martin Jones's piano-playing, so you can imagine I fell on this triple CD of his with great interest. It was all the more interesting to me as Adrian Farmer, one of Nimbus's leading managerial lights, as well as being a superb accompanist, is also playing on this comprehensive recording of Français' work, along with Richard McMahon, whom I hadn't encountered before, to my shame. It explains in the notes that he's had a long musical partnership with Martin Jones, for the two piano repertoire.

I particularly enjoyed the 4-hands transpositions of 15 portraits of children by Auguste Renoir, played by Martin Jones and Adrian Farmer. Their own enjoyment was more than evident.

This excellent recording was made in the Nimbus Studio at Wyastone Leys, where the technical expertise is second to none. It you're a piano fan, this triple CD is for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Way good, not trite. 8 Nov 2013
By Master Jason Argos - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Wow what a surprise this guy is totally underrated. He can be melodic and avant-garde at the same time. Not a easy thing to be. I love this disc; and each time I buy more of his brilliant work I am happy with the music.
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