Jean Françaix 100 / Various Wergo Artists [3 CDs]

Notes & Reviews:

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jean Françaix, Wergo has compiled selected recordings from the label's catalog (some available on CD for the first time) that display the wide-ranging talents of this acclaimed French composer and pianist, known for his prolific output and vibrant style. Though he often put his own modern spin on the old modes of expression, Françaix was an avowed neoclassicist who rejected atonality and he drew from great literature of the past for his vocal settings. This three-disc set includes not only his own compositions, but also Françaix's arrangements and re-workings of pieces by Chabrier, Schubert and Chopin.

American Record Guide, May/June 2013
The Five Portraits of Young Girls are rather charming, and the textures in II of the Two- Piano Concerto are demurely attractive. The Harpsichord Concerto sounds like skeletons, advanced in years, trying to climb out on the tin roof. The Nine Characteristic Pieces are blocks of sound and colorful. L'Heure du Berger (The Shepherd's Hour) is in an arrangement by Friedrich Wanek for eight wind instruments and piano and approximates a group of late middle-aged movie characters on holiday, all talking at once. The Guitar Concerto is a later work (1982- 83); there is - fortunately - more dynamic and textural variety. The Danses Exotiques were a surprise to me - I've accompanied the Cinq Danses Exotiques for saxophone and piano several times, and lo and behold, here are eight of them. It's finely played.



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