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Chamayou Champions Franck

available at Amazon
Franck, Les Djinns (inter alia), B. Chamayou,
O. Latry, Royal Scottish National
Orchestra, S. Denève

(released on April 27, 2010)
Naïve V 5208 | 1h13
We missed the one Washington concert by French pianist Bertrand Chamayou but did take note of his debut CD on the Naïve label a couple years ago, some lesser-known pieces by Mendelssohn. Although he has recorded at least one other disc, Liszt's Transcendental Etudes for Sony, it has not reached the U.S. yet. So, after a couple years, it was a pleasant surprise to have his second recording for Naïve cross my desk. This one is devoted to the music of César Franck, again not something one sees many pianists going out of their way to play. This is yet another disc whose inspiration is owed at least in part to the Centre de musique romantique française, whose research also led to recent discs of music by Onslow and Boëly. From the Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice -- where Chamayou gave a concert earlier this week, with a program of Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Franck, and Alkan -- the Centre's Scientific Director, Alexandre Dratwicki, authored the authoritative and informative liner notes of this disc. Chamayou gives urbane and color-filled performances of all the pieces on the disc, some more familiar than others: as noted in the liner essay by the pianist, these are works that used to be much more a part of the performing repertory of the world's great pianists.

Certainly, the two works with orchestra could be a worthy alternative to late Romantic concertos: Jean-Yves Thibaudet should think about it instead of playing one of the Ravel or Liszt concertos for the umpteenth time. Put together, the Variations symphoniques and the brilliant, mysterious Les Djinns, the latter inspired by a poem from Victor Hugo's exotic collection Les Orientales, would make an exciting bit of programming. The Prélude, choral et fugue (also recorded recently by Jens Elvekjær) and Prélude, aria et final are more familiar but still rarely heard on recital programs (indeed, I believe, either work has been reviewed live only once in the history of Ionarts). The most savory discovery, however, is the final set of three short tracks, the Prélude, fugue et variation, op. 18, in Franck's unusual arrangement for piano and harmonium. None other than Olivier Latry plays the evocative 1926 Mustel harmonium -- a sound that reeks of Frenchness. Indeed, all of Chamayou's collaborators are top-notch, including conductor Stéphane Denève and his Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

1 comment:

Lindemann said...

Oooh, nice. I might pick this up. Prélude, chorale et fugue is one of my all-time faves.