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Franck: Musique Pour Piano

Franck / Blumenthal / Cornil / Tsachor:pnos
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Musique En Wallonie   Catalog #: 1161   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  César Franck
Performer:  Jean-Claude Vanden EyndenDominique CornilAndrew HardyUriel Tsachor,   ... 
Conductor:  Edgard Doneux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  César Franck Ensemble (Piano Quintet)Academica Quartet
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 46 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FRANCK Piano Concerto No. 2 in b 1. Variations brilliantes sur la Ronde favorite de Gustave III 1. Piano Quintet in f 1,2. Violin Sonata in A 3. Piano Trio in F? 4. Piano Trio in b 4. Duos for 4 hands: No. 1 on God save the King 5; Read more class="ARIAL12b">No. 2 on Lucile 5. Hulda: Extract 5. Prelude, Fugue, and Variation 6. Prelude, Choral, and Fugue 6. Prelude, Aria, and Finale 6. Les Plaintes d’une poupée 6. Prélude pour l’Ave Maris Stella 6. Noël Angevin 6. Chant de la Creuse 6. Chant Béarnais 6. 2 Morceaux 6. Danse lente 6 1 Edgar Doneux, cond; 1 Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (pn); 1 RTBF New SO; 2 César Franck Ens; 3 Andrew Hardy (vn); 3 Uriel Tsachor (pn); 4 Academica Qrt; 5 Daniel Blumenthal, 5 Jacob Bogart, 6 Dominique Cornil (pn) MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE 1161 (5 CDs: 286:06)


The album title, César Franck Music for Piano , knocked me for a loop. “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “Franck didn’t write enough piano music to fill five discs.” After poring over the collection’s table of contents, it became clear that the phrase “music for piano” had been used liberally rather than literally, for these discs contain (1) concerted works for piano and orchestra; (2) chamber works—including the evergreen Violin Sonata—in which the piano is but one participant in the proceedings; (3) a miscellany of pieces for piano-four hands and two pianos; and (4) a handful of short pieces (ranging from 44 seconds to a minute and a half) transcribed for piano by Dominique Cornil from their harmonium and/or organ versions.


The only original works here for solo piano are those for which Franck is widely known: the Prelude, Choral, and Fugue; and the Prelude, Aria, and Finale. The Prelude, Fugue, and Variation identified as being for piano solo was, in fact, written for harmonium and piano. Amusingly then, a four-hour and 45-minute five-disc set titled César Franck Music for Piano contains only 40 minutes of music actually written for solo piano, while a handful of pieces Franck did write for solo piano are absent.


Except for the Violin Sonata, the Piano Quintet, and the two major piano prelude works, I was not familiar with any of this music, and I would guess that few readers are either, for most of the rest of the pieces appear to have very few, if any, recordings. To that end then, this strangely concocted collection makes a valuable addition to the catalog.


The B-Minor Piano Concerto (1836) is the work of a 14-year-old boy, and never in a million years would you suspect the composer was Franck. The piece skillfully combines the manner of Beethoven in the orchestral tuttis with the fleet keyboard passagework and melodic sweetness of Hummel, and manages to tie the whole thing up with a multicolored fancy bow braided by a young Mendelssohn and Chopin. I’m surprised Hyperion hasn’t gotten around to including it in the Romantic Piano Concerto series. It’s a real beauty, and one you can have fun with testing your friends on who wrote it. I find only one other recording listed; it’s on Naxos with pianist François-Joël Thoillier.


The other concerted work for piano and orchestra, Variations brilliantes sur la Ronde favorite de Gustave III , was written even earlier; it dates from 1834 when Franck was 12. The tune on which the precocious youth based his piece comes from the opera Gustave III by Daniel Auber. Musically, it’s one of those typical opera potboiler paraphrases or medleys of the period that enjoyed great public popularity. Its flashy virtuosity can’t conceal its musical banality, but what amazes about the piece is Franck’s mastery of the orchestra at such a young age.


Having tried his hand at orchestral scoring, the still teenaged Franck turned his attention to the chamber-music medium just a few years later, composing three piano trios—his official op. 1—between 1839 and 1842. These have received a bit more attention on disc than the earlier concerted works, but Adrian Corleonis, reviewing a recording of them by Damien Pardoen, Luc Tooten, and Stéphane de May in Fanfare 30: 3, referred to the trios as “overrich, somewhat yeasty, fruitcakes.”


Coincidentally, 1839 is the same year in which Mendelssohn completed his perennially popular Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor. Franck’s essays in the genre can’t begin to compare with Mendelssohn’s in terms of melodic inspiration and imaginative genius, but what’s interesting is that sometime between the piano concerto of 1836 and these trios of 1839–42, Franck began to find his own voice and stopped imitating earlier composers. We now hear in these trios the beginnings of the chromatic harmony and organ-oriented sonorities that would come to characterize Franck’s mature style.


For all of the less familiar pieces, large and small, this set may be strongly recommended. It’s when we come to the really well-known works, like the Violin Sonata, that a recommendation becomes problematic. With more than 150 entries listed for the sonata—some of which, like the recent one by Ray Chen reviewed by Robert Maxham, not to mention classics like those by Arthur Grumiaux, Isaac Stern, and my own personal favorite by Augustin Dumay with Maria João Pires, are truly outstanding—not only is Andrew Hardy in the present set not competitive, he’s outright awful. The first and last movements are way too fast, which is counterintuitive to the music’s chromatic wending and unwinding in the first movement, and to its chromatically clarified and tonally resolved glorious finale in the last movement. But beyond that, Hardy produces a continuous, extremely tight, fast vibrato that is very annoying.


In the Piano Quintet, the César Franck Ensemble (Véronique Bogaerts and Tomiko Shida, violins; Thérèse-Marie Gilissen, viola; Edmont Baert, cello; and Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden, piano) also faces stiff competition from the Fine Arts, Juilliard, and Ysaÿe quartets. So, should you decide to acquire this set for the unfamiliar works, which are well worth getting to know, you will end up duplicating a number of familiar works that are better heard in other performances.


The bottom line may come down to cost. Right now (March 2012), ArkivMusic is selling this five-disc set for an incredible $30.99, which works out to just over $6 per disc. That may be because the recordings are not new; they range in date mainly from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. The sound, however, is excellent, and the 60-page booklet, in French, Dutch, and English, is beautifully done. Recommended then, but with the above caveats.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 11 by César Franck
Performer:  Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (Piano)
Conductor:  Edgard Doneux
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1835; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1983 
Venue:  Maison de la Radio de Bruxelles, RTBF 
Length: 15 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Variations brillantes sur la ronde favorite de Gustave III, Op. 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (Piano)
Conductor:  Edgard Doneux
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1835; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1983 
Venue:  Maison de la Radio de Bruxelles, RTBF 
Length: 14 Minutes 13 Secs. 
3.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, M 7 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  César Franck Ensemble (Piano Quintet)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1992 
Venue:  Studio C, Blanden, Louvain 
Length: 39 Minutes 57 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Andrew Hardy (Violin), Uriel Tsachor (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Venue:  Studio 1, Flagey, Bruxelles 
Length: 26 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
Trios (3) for Piano and Strings, Op. 1: no 1 in F sharp minor by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academica Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839-1842; France 
Date of Recording: 2983 
Length: 33 Minutes 25 Secs. 
6.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 4 in B minor, Op. 2 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academica Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; France 
Date of Recording: 2983 
Length: 18 Minutes 13 Secs. 
7.
Duo for Piano 4 hands no 1 on "God Save the King", Op. 4/M 12 by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 14 Minutes 56 Secs. 
8.
Duo for Piano 4 hands no 2 on the Quartet from Lucile, M 19/Op. 17 by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 9 Minutes 15 Secs. 
9.
Hulda, M 49: Entr'acte pastoral by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 7 Minutes 36 Secs. 
10.
Hulda, M 49: Chanson de l'hermine by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
11.
Hulda, M 49: Marche royale by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
12.
Hulda, M 49: Ballet du printemps by César Franck
Performer:  Daniel Blumenthal (Piano), Jacob Bogart (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  NCRV 2 Studio, Hilversum, The Netherland 
Length: 21 Minutes 55 Secs. 
13.
Prelude, Fugue and Variation for Organ in B minor, Op. 18 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; France 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 9 Minutes 59 Secs. 
14.
Prelude, Chorale and Fugue for Piano, M 21 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 18 Minutes 43 Secs. 
15.
Prelude, Aria and Finale for Piano, M 23 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1887; France 
16.
L'organiste: Les plaintes d'une poupée by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 1 Minutes 38 Secs. 
17.
L'organiste: Prélude pour l'Ave maris stella by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 0 Minutes 51 Secs. 
18.
L'organiste: Noël angévin by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
19.
L'organiste: Chant de la Creuse by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
20.
L'organiste: Chant béarnais by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs. 
21.
Morceaux (2) for Piano: no 1 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 0 Minutes 46 Secs. 
22.
Morceaux (2) for Piano: no 2 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
23.
Danse lente for Piano, M 22 by César Franck
Performer:  Dominique Cornil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Sound Recording Centre; Steurbaut, Ghent 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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