, February 2002
"Franck's Piano Concerto No. 2, composed when he was just 13 (an earlier attempt was destroyed), previously was available on a 1990 Schwann disc that even then was overdue for replacement. Martijn van den Hoeck gives an agile and accomplished reading here, one that fully justifies buying this CD even if you already have the other works on the program. The recording was made in the Musis Sacrum in Arnhem, whose fine Philharmonic Orchestra previously made a strong impression in its first contribution to Naxos' Franck survey. This follow-up gives the rarely played concerto a much needed new lease on life, and in every way this is a considerable advance on the Schwann version by Jean-Claude van den Eyden, whose cautiously under-stated manner suits this volatile and extrovert work less well than van den Hoeck's gutsy, powerfully animated style. The Schwann production also suffers from technical flaws in both outer movements, and keyboard detailing in the adagio is poorly reproduced by the dimly-lit recording.
On this Naxos disc, which shows van den Hoeck in exceptional form in the concerto's virtuoso finale, the sound is rich, spacious, and very detailed, with the piano placed slightly back, just as you'd expect in a concert hall. Francois-Joel Thiollier is soloist in the remaining works, and he gives estimable accounts of each...Thiollier possesses an assured technique and a firm grasp of structure, making this a very useful interpretation, especially if you don't already have this work in your collection. Recommended."