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Symphony in D Minor Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Jan. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Import
  • ASIN: B004GCQ2V4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,140 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
I knew of Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor but had never heard it before. Having already collected many of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras CDs in their 1990s digital series, I was keen to hear what it was like. I wasn't disappointed and liked it immediately. It is known as a romantic Symphony and there is certainly a lot of passion and emotion in it. Raymond Leppard conducts the RPO in a stunning recording of it in excellent digital sound. Also on this CD are two interesting Symphonic Poems that Franck composed, and which are also performed by Leppard and the RPO.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward symphony performance plus two symphonic poems, great sound 15 Feb. 2012
By Mary Ann and Ken Bergman - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Cesar Franck's Symphony in D-minor is an unorthodox symphony, consisting of three instead of the usual four movements. In the opening movement, a slow introduction builds from a whisper to a dramatic crescendo, then is repeated in another key. The orchestration of the movement is unique, with layering on of woodwinds and brass, somewhat like an organist pulling out stops (Franck was a famous organist in his day). The second movement allegretto is scored more lightly and features the English horn playing the famous elegiac melody, interrupted by a middle section on the strings, a scherzo-like section in triplets, and a lyrical melody featuring the clarinet. All these melodic materials are brought together in the coda. The last movement starts with a joyful principal theme and a second one in the brass, but eventually brings about return of the key melodies of the first two movements, ending in a grand and rousing finale.

This is dramatic music, and the best performances emphasize the dramatic element. Although the Royal Philharmonic under Raymond Leppard gives a solid performance of this symphony and is blessed with excellent sound, it is somewhat weak on dramatic impact. The dynamic range is large, and crescendos are impressive, but Leppard chooses fairly slow tempos. Also, there is an almost total absence of rubato. In my opinion, this late romantic symphony calls out for rubato in key places, and its absence combined with the less than lively tempo makes for a somewhat stolid performance. But those who favor strict rhythm may find this recording to be an excellent one.

The other two compositions on the CD are symphonic poems in the manner of Liszt. The first, Les Eolides, is based on a poem by Leconte de Lisle about the daughters of Aeolus, the god of the winds and imitates the sound of wind in its various guises. It meanders through several individual themes, then brings them together in counterpoint near the end. The second, Le Chasseur Maudit, is better known and based on a poem by the German romantic Gottfried Burger. It tells the story of an unholy Count who prefers the pleasures of the hunt to Sunday worship and who rides to his damnation. Leppard and the Royal Philharmonic make the most of this somewhat repetitious but very dramatic music and build it to a series of exciting climaxes. One wishes that Leppard had attained this level of drama in the symphony.

As mentioned, the sound quality of this CD is superior, the original 1998 recording being remastered and reissued as a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Audiophile Collection CD. The included liner notes are brief but informative about Franck, the music on the CD, and conductor Leppard. I recommend this CD with the reservations noted above.
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