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Franck: Symphonie, Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne, La lutte de l'hiver et du printemps / Arming

Franck / Liege Rpo / Arming
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Fuga Libera   Catalog #: 596   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Liège Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


César Franck remains perhaps the most unknown of all the great composers. He wrote operas, oratorios, symphonic poems, and chamber music throughout his life, but except for the few late works virtually all of it languishes in obscurity. Then there are the organ works, the finest of their kind since Bach, which remain the province primarily of organists. I have to confess, I am often no fan of organ music generally, but Franck’s music for the instrument really does have the power to cross over and give pleasure even to the most hard core doubters.

This splendid disc features music you probably haven’t ever heard. The tone poem Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne (What One Hears on
Read more the Mountain) dates from 1947, predating Liszt’s first symphonic poem of the same title by two or three years. It may thus be the very first symphonic poem in history, and it’s beautiful. The very opening, with its high violins and suspended cymbals, is an astonishing piece of orchestration for its date, far more sophisticated than anything that Liszt or Wagner were doing at the time (the work is contemporary with Tannhäuser). Franck’s musical ideas are more striking than Liszt’s, his structure more cohesive over virtually the same span of time–about 25 minutes. It was recorded at least once previously, for Koch, but this performance is clearly superior both as playing and sound.

Hulda was Franck’s last completed opera, and the ballet music, an allegorical “four seasons” type of scenario, is just good French dance music of the period, enriched by some typically Franckian harmonic spice. Laid out in five shapely movements, I offer samples of the second (Winter’s Dance), with its gorgeous lyrical writing, and the boisterous finale. As you will hear for yourself, the playing and recorded sound are excellent in all respects. Christian Arming leads Franck’s home town forces in audibly committed interpretations, which is a good thing because you also get yet another recording of the inevitable Symphony in D minor.

Happily, it’s also one of the best to come out in recent years. Arming paces this tricky piece just about perfectly. The first movement, in particular, has no dead spots whatsoever. The central allegretto finds exactly the right point of balance between andante and scherzo, and the finale has plenty of excitement, with a powerfully built coda enhanced by Arming’s directness of expression and firm pulse. This important release is sure to give great pleasure, and it deserves a place in every serious collection.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony in D minor, M 48 by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Liège Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1888; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 39 Minutes 14 Secs. 
2. Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1845–1847 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 24 Minutes 20 Secs. 
3. Hulda, M 49: Lutte de l'hiver et du printemps by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
4. Hulda, M 49: Danse de l'hiver by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
5. Hulda, M 49: Danse des elfes by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
6. Hulda, M 49: Danse et choeur des ondines by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7. Hulda, M 49: Ronde générale by César Franck
Conductor:  Christian Arming
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879–1885; France 
Venue:  Salle Philharmonique (Liège) 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony in D minor, M. 48: I. Lento - Allegro non troppo
Symphony in D minor, M. 48: II. Allegretto
Symphony in D minor, M. 48: III. Allegro non troppo
Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne
Hulda, Op. 4, M. 49: Ballet Allegorique: I. Lutte de l'hiver et du printemps
Hulda, Op. 4, M. 49: Ballet Allegorique: II. Danse de l'hiver
Hulda, Op. 4, M. 49: Ballet Allegorique: III. Danse des elfes
Hulda, Op. 4, M. 49: Ballet Allegorique: IV. Danse et choeur des ondines
Hulda, Op. 4, M. 49: Ballet Allegorique: V. Rondo generale

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A Unique Late Romantic Symphony April 24, 2013 By Archibald S. (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews "Cesar Franck's lone symphony has unusual harmonic structures, which give it a feeling quite distinct from Brahms or Saint Saens, for example. There are only three movements. The 1st movement opens with a mysterious, brooding feeling which leads to a dark outburst. The mood slowly brightens and leads to a triumphant ending. The 2nd movement is serene but has forward motion. The 3rd movement opens with a brisk theme, somewhat Wagnerian in character, which to me suggests a leisurely journey through beautiful scenery with no particular destination in mind. The mood becomes dark and agitated, then triumphant again at the conclusion. Also on this disc is the tone poem What One Hears on the Mountain, and ballet music from Franck's opera Hulda. The Leige Royal Philharmonic has a notable affinity for this music, which is not surprising because it is located in Franck's birth place." Report Abuse
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