Music by César Franck -
reviewed by ROBERT ANDERSON
'Thiollier is capable of the loveliest sonorities from the outset ...'
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].
Copyright © 11 September 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK