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Uneasy agitation

Music by César Franck -

'Thiollier is capable of the loveliest sonorities from the outset ...'

César Franck. (c) 2002 HHN International Ltd

The Franck family craft had been the production of stained glass, a fact to symbolise much of the composer's output, if hardly these three works. The stranger among them is the Op 11 piano concerto, written at the very beginning of Franck's teenage years, when his father was determined he should be a prodigy both at the keyboard and at composition. The concerto suggests he should have succeeded, but the salon world that had so recently clasped a Chopin to its bosom was thrall also to the thunderous Liszt, and Franck's gifts made no impression on musical Paris. He then very sensibly perfected his craft at the Conservatoire and laid the foundations for the splendid works to follow. But the concerto is far from negligible. It begins with typical examples of the brief gnomic phrases that were to become a hallmark of Franck's style. The tiro composer goes on to display a very proper interest in Weber and Rossini, devising a splendid entry for the solo instrument [listen -- track 3, 4:05-5:14]. Martijn van den Hoek shows himself throughout a skilled and sensitive reincarnation of the young Franck. Nothing in the work is more engaging than the start of the finale, where rumbustious high spirits reform into an infectious polacca [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:00].

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Copyright © 11 September 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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