Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ernest Chausson, Cesar Franck, Marek Janowski|
CÚsar Franck: Symphony in D minor; Ernest Chausson: Symphony in B-flat, Op. 20 [Hybrid SACD]
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Janowski, OSR, Franck, Chausson: Improvisatory Delight & Fer
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 11/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc caught my attention in three ways. First, it offers me the great symphony by Cesar Franck in the latest high resolution superaudio surround sound. Second, it represents the peripatetic and welcome return of the Ochestre de la Suisse Romande to recordings. (Those who are old enough to recall the OSR under Ernest Ansermet will remember what a mainstay of the old stereo Decca/London classical LP catalogue this orchestra was. Some of those performances were steady and durable, and some were outstanding, with revelatory musical value.) Third, this disc gives me yet another chance to have a try at the Chausson symphony, and for some reason I still need that exposure. Anybody who has collected the top five hundred list in western classical music literature will probably know Chausson's famous Poeme for violin and orchestra. I also treasure that oddity of a Chausson song cycle, Poeme de l'amour et de la mer. But I haven't finished getting the point of the symphony yet.
The superaudio competition includes that legendary stereo recording of the Franck symphony, made under Pierre Monteux with the fabulous Reiner-era Chicago symphony. Now BMG/Sony/RCA has refurbished those master tapes in superaudio high resolution, and that milestone of performance art shows a new lease on life. In regular red book CD editions, I have also collected the Carlo Maria Giulini/Philharmonia/EMI, the Andrew Davis/Philharmonia/CBS Sony, the Dutoit/Montreal/Decca/London, the Pierre Bartholomee/Liege/Ricercar, and the re-release of the Stokowski/Hilversum Radio Orchestra on Cala (hats off to the Stokowski Society).
So what have we here?
I say, five stars. But this is not a performance exclusively cast in the most traditional and familiar organ loft sonorities mould. One of the blessed qualities of keepers like the Monteux/Chicago is its evocation of how masterfully the composer could use the orchestra as if it were, indeed, a collective incarnation of the western pipe organ, the King of Instruments. Glowing, organ loft sonorities mass and swell, whisper and linger and float. The pace is lively but deliberate, nothing rushed. Hale fellow, Franck, then.
The Stokowski performance is different, not stinting on the brilliant burnish of all the orchestral sounds Franck could draw out from his genius; but catching a more quicksilvery, will'o the wisp sense of flowing tempo and rubato and phrasing - as if Stokowski had taken some inspiration from Franck's tone poem, Les Eolides, as a clue to interpreting the symphony.
Temporarily banished to using the backup system by a neighborhood gathering at home, I started off listening to this disc in regular stereo, and then later got my chance to take it for a spin on the big rig in the main room. Needless to say, while the standard CD stereo layer is perfectly good; the SACD multichannel layer is that much better. You get the customary increase in air around the notes, along with that subtle but vivid intensification of all the tonal colors, along with - just love it - the location of everyone playing in the recorded venue.
In regular red book CD, the Franck and Chausson sound just a tad hyper and volatile. In SACD, however, both symphonies open out nicely into more of a worthy balance between that traditional organ loft sonority, and the Stokowski-Les Eolides style.
I am still learning the Chausson, but this performance seems like a vivid take on it, and I can easily look forward to hearing it better, and more often in this approach. I especially like the combination of vigor and refinement that Janowski/OSR bring to it. Dare we hope that these same forces, plus, might eventually offer us equally fine versions of the Chausson poemes - one for violin - (Kurt Nikkanen? James Ehnes?), one for voice - (Ewa Podles?) ?
All told, the Franck is a keeper, too, even if we are offered a different view of that symphony. I recall that Franck the master organist of Sainte Clothilde in Paris was renowned as an improviser. His students bore witness to their experience that Franck could instantly hear all the different harmonic directions a single chord might take. So the interpretive path pursued by Janowski/OSR revives that spirit of improvisation while keeping the more traditional organ loft sonorities intact, too.
If you are getting a first version of the Franck, probably the legendary Monteux/Chicago performance remasted in SACD on BMG/Sony/RCA is a better choice. If you are unconvinced by the more traditional and entirely solemn-meditative approach to the symphony, this version will probably arrive as a breeze of fresh air, indeed. Welcome. Sit back a spell and breathe."
At long last ...
Laurance Maney | Vermont, USA | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This new disc of Franck's Symphony in D Minor is not only the first recording by Marek Janowski as Music Director of L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande but the best recording of the Franck D Minor symphony since Ernest Ansermet's May 1961 recording with the same orchestra. It thus joins Ansermet's and the great recording led by Pierre Monteux and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, also recorded in 1961, as the best recordings of this luminous work. That it also marks the return of the great Marek Janowski to the catalog is the real news, however. One can only hope that the good folks at Pentatone will continue their partnership with the OSR and Janowski. Bravo!"