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Patrick Hanudel
American Record Guide, March 2011

Born into an artistic family in Paris, Jeanne-Louise Farrenc (1804–75) avoided the fate of many middle class girls and pursued her talents and studied with the best teachers of her time. She studied piano with Johann Nepomuk Hummel, the foremost keyboard authority of the early 19th Century, and through Ignaz Moscheles she became familiar with Mendelssohn and his expressive anti-virtuoso philosophy. At age 15 she entered the Paris Conservatory, where she took composition classes with Anton Reicha.

Like Mendelssohn, Farrenc was more interested in working in established styles than pushing European music forward. She wrote for both the concert hall and the salon; and many critics, notably Robert Schumann, praised her craft and wealth of melodic and thematic ideas. Nevertheless, despite frequent performances and an enthusiastic flutist husband who issued all her works through his publishing company, Farrenc could not overcome the furtive sexual bias of her time. Her reputation has been left to modern musicians with the interest and curiosity to evaluate her works.

In this 1993 recording, German clarinetist Dieter Klöcker and his chamber group Consortium Classicum make a case for Farrenc with solid and convincing performances of her Nonet in E-flat, Op. 38 for wind quintet and string quartet with double bass, and her Clarinet Trio in E-flat, Op. 44. The Nonet looks back to the late classical framework of Haydn and the restrained romanticism of early Schubert, but also makes room for the playful scherzos of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. The Trio, by contrast, is an important work to consider between the Beethoven Opus 11 and the Brahms Opus 114, freely adopting the fire, virtuosic indulgence, and clear textures of the former, but giving hints at the thick scoring and extended phrases of the latter.

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