CD Review – Farrenc & Saint-Saëns: Romantic Dreams

Farrenc & Saint-Saëns: Romantic Dreams
ABC 481 9887

Louise Farrenc was a highly talented pianist who became Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire: she was also a composer who wrote finely crafted chamber music and symphonies. Farrenc’s Quintet for piano and strings No 1 was composed at a time when Romanticism was beginning to establish itself; it has been compared to Mendelssohn and described as “Mozart on steroids”. A male critic once said of her music that it displayed, “all the graces of her sex in her melodies, and all the vigour of ours in her knowledge of counterpoint”. What this CD illustrates is that, regardless of gender, both Farrenc and Saint-Saëns, whose own piano quintet is also performed, are capable of weaving both grace and vigour through their music. The comprehensive liner notes discuss the historically informed performance practices that have guided Ironwood’s interpretations.

-Paul Cooke

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