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David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2020

‘Do give Farrenc a hearing and let us hope others take up her cause’, I wrote in April 2018 when reviewing the Naxos release of her Second and Third Symphonies.   

Born in Paris in 1804, Louise Farrenc achieved acclaim as a concert pianist and teacher, but sadly her compositions have since spent many years of neglect. It was her marriage to the flautist, Aristide Farrenc, that changed her life by bringing an end to compositional studies as they travelled extensively as a performing duo. Eventually settling back in France they founded the famous publishing house, Editions Farrenc. Now in her late twenties, and with her husband’s encouragement, she returned to the Paris Conservatoire to renew her composition studies with Anton Reicha. He did imbue her music with a Germanic influence, and you will also recognise that she was familiar with the music of Mendelssohn. Let those words in no way diminish her achievement in these scores, as they are substantial works, the First Symphony dating from 1841, shaped in four movements that are full of delightful and memorable melodies, the third being a sprightly Minuetto that owed a debt to Mozart. The two Overtures are concert works but of a highly charged nature that could well have served an opera of the time. Dating from 1834 they may well have been student works encouraged by early Beethoven and Schubert. Finally we have the 1838 show-piece for a solo pianist in a series of Variations for keyboard and orchestra that would have been a concert favourite had it carried Chopin’s name. It is here performed with considerable brio by the multi-award winning Luxembourg pianist, Jean Muller. Formed from leading members of European orchestras, the Soloists Europeens is a chamber orchestra who perform concerts in Luxembourg with their German conductor, Christoph Konig, Farrenc here finding enthusiasts who perform as if their lives depended on it. Probably recorded at two public concerts, the sound quality is very punchy. Fervently recommended as a delightful discovery. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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