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Francaix: Scuola Di Ballo, Serenade, Symphonie, Etc /Fischer


Release Date: 05/14/2002 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67323   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This winsome disc of Françaix works is sure to put a smile on the face of even the gloomiest individual. Just about everything he wrote during his long and prolific career was light-hearted, witty, and puckish, if hardly ever academically fashionable. Françaix seldom veered from his goal of writing completely accessible, well crafted music that often sparkles with clever wind parts, sardonic gestures in the brass, and rambunctious rhythms. That the works on this well-recorded (but slightly bass-heavy) disc, all of which are similarly infectious but unique in their own way, were composed between 1933 and 1987 is a testament to Françaix's compositional integrity.


Many of the pieces sound as if they
Read more could have been ballets, even if only one of them, Scuola di Ballo (based largely on Boccherini's string quintets--think Pulcinella or La Boutique Fantasque), actually was intended for the stage. From the very opening of the Symphony, a sort of circus-like concerto grosso composed in 1953, you immediately can picture choreography by Balanchine. Dedicated to the memory of Haydn (and structured as a strictly classical symphony), this charming work nonetheless cleaves to Stravinsky's "neo-classical" period and, in the last movement, to early Prokofiev. Of considerable delight is a tango beat that underpins the Trio in the third movement, accompanied by salacious glissandos in the strings.


Next up is the 1934 Serenade, a collection of charming miniatures that again have their roots in Stravinsky--not so much the Dumbarton Oaks referenced in the liner notes, but a cross between Histoire du Soldat and the Octet, with a little Rite of Spring thrown in via the high bassoon tessitura in the Andantino section. The off-kilter Vivace is sheer musical cabaret farce, featuring a goofy trombone solo, cheeky wind playing, and plucky strings, all executed playfully by the Ulster Orchestra personnel.


Two rarities--Ouverture anacréontique (1978) and Pavane (1987)--demonstrate indeed how consistent Françaix was in his later years. The longest work on this disc at slightly more than 11 minutes, the Ouverture's dreamy prelude gives way to the customary Françaix frolic, while the Pavane, a riff on and memorial to Ravel, sounds a lot more like the Menuet from Tombeau de Couperin in its big oboe solos than Ravel's semi-eponymous work. A thoroughly enjoyable disc, especially if your spirits are low.
--Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sérénade B-E-A by Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; France 
2.
Symphony by Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; France 
3.
Scuola di ballo by Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
4.
Ouverture anacréontique by Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; France 
5.
Pavane pour un génie vivant by Jean Françaix
Conductor:  Thierry Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; France 

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