Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony in d.
Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
Michel Plassson, cond; Jean-Philippe Collard (pn); Capitole de Toulouse O
EMI 72469 (55:44)
Recorded in 1985, the Symphony receives a rattling good performance. It is not a great one, like Beecham’s, with the French Radio Orchestra, in which every detail is shaped and telling, guided by the sure timing of a master raconteur, nor does it possess the Manichaean conviction of the classic Monteux/Chicago
performance. But it is similarly paced and superbly cohesive—where many latter-day performances veer to the ramshackle and noisy—leavened with lift, lilt, and zest, captured with panoramic detail and upfront immediacy in crisp digital. Plasson may not buy Franck’s light-in-darkness program, but he projects the work’s drama.
Among 21st-century performances of choice, Philippe Herreweghe’s, with the Orchestre des Champs Élysées (Harmonia Mundi 901771), is given with a suave briskness demonstrating that ecstasy and dignity are not incompatible, while suggesting a disarming application of Alfred North Whitehead’s observation, “Religion is force of belief cleansing the inward parts.” In the
, from the same sessions, Collard seems to have Franck’s doubt-vs.-faith scenario much at heart, beginning wanly to persevere with muted questioning and soar at last on ecstatically lyrical wings. One may turn to more forthright and exhilarating performances marking the historical record—Cortot with Landon Ronald and the LSO in 1927, Yves Nat with Gaston Poulet leading the Concerts Pierné Orchestra in 1942, or (a personal favorite) Casadesus with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1958—but Collard’s deft touch couched in Plasson’s mellowed felicity triumphantly struts another, subtler, prehension. And that’s to say, enthusiastically recommended.
FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
reviewing the orchestral works
Works on This Recording
Symphony in D minor, M 48 by César Franck
Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Written: 1886-1888; France
Be the first to review this title