This remarkable set reveals the full breadth and genius of a creative career known to most merely by the tip of the iceberg: a small number of seminal works written in the composer’s final decade of life. Ceìsar Franck (1822–1890), although considered one of the foremost 19th-century French composers, was not in fact French by birth, but Belgian. He only became a full French citizen in 1873 after he had been appointed organ professor at the Paris Conservatoire. His career can be divided into three distinct periods, each characterised by the production of very different types of music.
From 1834 to 1846, under pressure from his father, he concertised as a piano virtuoso, and most of the works of this period were written with that purpose in mind. In the decade following his marriage in 1848 he composed virtually nothing but became celebrated as an organist, and he would bring the spacious dimensions of that instrument to his sound world in the years to come. His ‘middle period’ – from about 1858 to 1879 – was devoted to the production of works for organ, church music and a series of monumental choral pieces on religious or biblical subjects. In these three decades he wrote virtually nothing for the piano. From 1879 begins the decade of his late flowering in the great chamber and orchestral works, ushered in by his well-loved Piano Quintet and containing the pieces for which Franck is widely known. Spanning all three periods were opera and his small output of 18 mélodies.
César Franck (1822-1890), is widely considered one of the foremost 19th century French composers. He was not in fact French by birth, being born to parents of German stock in Liege, Belgium. He only became a full French citizen in 1873. A child prodigy he studied piano and organ in both Belgium and France. His career as a traveling piano virtuoso was not successful and it was as an organist that he finally established himself and settled in France as a teacher and organist, the Paris church St Clothilde, with its magnificent Cavaille Coll organ, being his home.
Like Bruckner and Messiaen, he was a devout Christian who invested his music with an intense spirituality that was matched in his personal life by an almost saintly innocence. His musical style is characterized by intense and rich chromaticism, long, curving melodic lines and highly personal counterpoint.
This edition offers an extensive range of his works: the famous Violin Sonata, the Symphony, and the organ works, but also lesser known works like the piano trios, piano quintet and string quartet, the great piano works, the complete songs, the opera Stradella, the mighty oratorio Les Béatitudes, symphonic poems, the rarely heard and recorded Rédemption and the Mass.
Performers include conductors Jean Fournet, Roberto Benzi and Helmuth Rilling, pianists Mūza Rubackytė and Klára Würtz, violinist Kristóf Baráti and organist Adriano Falcioni.