French Piano Concertos

French Piano Concertos
Composer César Auguste Franck, Claude Debussy, Darius Milhaud
Artist Various artists
Format 12 CD
Cat. number 95899
EAN code 5028421958996
Release April 2019

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About this release

This gorgeous set is dedicated to piano concertante works from the pens of French composers – infinitely varied compositions that nevertheless each bear the unmistakeable flavour of their native idiom. The French piano concerto was a late arrival on the European stage, and even then many French composers would opt to combine piano and orchestra outside the confines of strict concerto form. This 12-CD set homes in on the genre’s heyday – the century or so spanning Saint-Saëns’s pioneering First Piano Concerto (1858) to Françaix’s nostalgic Concerto for 2 Pianos (1965) – along with two precursors: a two-movement Concerto in F (1792) by the ‘French Mozart’ Boieldieu and the early Concerti da camera Op.10 (1832–38) by the maverick genius Alkan.

The set begins with the five piano concertos that traverse Saint-Saëns’s career, along with concertante pieces he composed in the 1880s during a 20-year hiatus between his Fourth (1875) and Fifth (1896). The ’80s were fertile for Saint-Saëns’s contemporary Franck, as well, who returned to the piano after decades focusing on the organ and on choral music to create such piano concertante masterworks as Les Djinns and the Variations symphoniques.

The latter work was an influence on Claude Debussy’s Fantaisie, in terms of the roles assigned to the orchestra and solo piano and the work’s structure, and like Franck before him, Debussy would disown this youthful work to move in a new direction – surprising given the warm reception enjoyed today by the early works of both composers.

The influence of Saint-Saëns and Franck would extend to several of Debussy’s contemporaries, as well. Some would rebel against concerto form – Gabriel Fauré with his episodic Ballade Op.19, Cécile Chaminade with her single-movement Concertstück Op.40 and Vincent D’Indy with his three-movement Symphony on a French Mountain Air –
while others would embrace it – the Concerto in C minor Op.12 of Gabriel Pierné emulating Saint-Saëns’s Second yet foreshadowing Rachmaninov, and the epic Concerto in F minor by Édouard Lalo harking back to Liszt.

Jules Massenet’s Concerto in E flat, begun in his early twenties, but only finished at the turn of the century after his many successful operas, arrived too late for the shifting tastes of the time, which had turned their back on romantic virtuosity in favour of the impressionistic and neo-classical. The group known as ‘Les Six’ (The Six) represented the next generation of French composers exploring these new directions in the wake of the First World War. Three of their number figure on this set: Francis Poulenc and the charm and wit of his Concertos for one and for two Pianos, Germaine Tailleferre and the impressionistic orientalism of her Ballade, and the prolific Darius Milhaud who contributes no less than five piano concertos and four other concertante pieces.

Their younger colleague Jean Françaix was among the many great names to have studied with seminal French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. She is represented here by her forward-looking 1912 Fantaisie, while her student Françaix, like Poulenc, offers Concertos for one (1936) and for two (1965) pianos, the former dedicated to his teacher and the latter looking back to Poulenc. Albert Roussel and Reynaldo Hahn, though older than the members of ‘Les Six’, would only come to write piano concertos in their 50s, well into the inter-war period. Hahn’s concerto is featured here in a very special remastered historic recording from 1937, with the composer at the podium and the renowned Brazilian pianist Magda Tagliaferro as soloist.

Maurice Ravel likewise came late to the piano concerto, but then wrote two simultaneously, one for piano two hands and one for the left hand alone, on commissions from Serge Koussevitzky and Paul Wittgenstein, respectively. Both were given their premieres within a few weeks of each other in 1932.

As a worthy successor to the highly successful set of Russian Piano Concertos (BC95520) Brilliant Classics is happy to issue this set of French Piano Concertos on 12 CD’s.
Beginning with the (Early) Romantic concertos by Boieldieu and Alkan, and ending with concertos by Françaix and Milhaud they represent everything which is quintessentially French: a lightness of touch, charming, witty, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, colourful and bubbling with brilliant virtuosity.
Played by excellent pianists such as Magda Tagliaferro, Romain Descharmes, Gabriel Tacchino, Francois-Joël Thiollier, Michael Korstick, Florian Uhlig and Klára Würtz.
The booklet contains a newly written essay by David Moncur.

Listening

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17: I. Andante – Allegro assai
  2. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17: II. Andante sostenuto quasi adagio
  3. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17: III. Allegro con fuoco
  4. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: I. Andante sostenuto
  5. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: II. Allegro scherzando
  6. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: III. Presto
  7. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 44: I. Allegro moderato
  8. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 44: II. Allegro vivace

Disk 2

  1. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 29: I. Moderato assai
  2. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 29: II. Andante – III. Allegro non troppo
  3. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103: I. Allegro animato
  4. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103: II. Andante
  5. Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103: III. Molto allegro
  6. Camille Saint-Saëns: Africa, Op. 89

Disk 3

  1. François-Adrien Boïeldieu: Piano Concerto in F Major: I. Allegro
  2. François-Adrien Boïeldieu: Piano Concerto in F Major: II. Pastorale con variazioni
  3. Jules Massenet: Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major: I. Andante moderato
  4. Jules Massenet: Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major: II. Largo
  5. Jules Massenet: Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major: III. Airs slovaques. Allegro
  6. Gabriel Pierné: Piano Concerto in C Minor, Op. 12: I. Allegro
  7. Gabriel Pierné: Piano Concerto in C Minor, Op. 12: II. Scherzando
  8. Gabriel Pierné: Piano Concerto in C Minor, Op. 12: III. Final

Disk 4

  1. Édouard Lalo: Piano Concerto in F Minor: I. Lento – Allegro
  2. Édouard Lalo: Piano Concerto in F Minor: II. Lento
  3. Édouard Lalo: Piano Concerto in F Minor: III. Allegro
  4. Cécile Chaminade: Concertstück in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 40
  5. Albert Roussel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Op. 36: I. Allegro molto
  6. Albert Roussel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Op. 36: II. Adagio
  7. Albert Roussel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Op. 36: III. Allegro con spirit
  8. Jean Françaix: Piano Concerto: I. —
  9. Jean Françaix: Piano Concerto: II. Andante
  10. Jean Françaix: Piano Concerto: III. —
  11. Jean Françaix: Piano Concerto: IV. Allegro

Disk 5

  1. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 10: I. Allegro
  2. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 10: II. Adagio
  3. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 10: III. Allegro
  4. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 10: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 10: II. Adagio
  6. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 10: III. Primo movimento
  7. Charles Henri Valentin Alkan: Concerto da camera No. 3 in C-Sharp, Op. 10: I. Andante con moto
  8. Vincent D'Indy: Symphony on a French Mountain Air, Op. 25: I. Assez lent – Modérément animé
  9. Vincent D'Indy: Symphony on a French Mountain Air, Op. 25: II. Assez modéré, mais sans lenteur
  10. Vincent D'Indy: Symphony on a French Mountain Air, Op. 25: III. Animé

Disk 6

  1. Reynaldo Hahn: Piano Concerto in E Major: I. Improvisation – Modéré
  2. Reynaldo Hahn: Piano Concerto in E Major: II. Danse
  3. Reynaldo Hahn: Piano Concerto in E Major: III. Rêverie
  4. Reynaldo Hahn: Piano Concerto in E Major: IV. Toccata – Finale
  5. Gabriel Fauré: Ballade in F-Sharp Major, Op. 19
  6. Camille Saint-Saëns: Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, Op. 73
  7. Camille Saint-Saëns: Wedding Cake, Op. 76

Disk 7

  1. César Auguste Franck: Symphonic Variations, FWV 46
  2. César Auguste Franck: Les Djinns in F-Sharp Minor, FWV 45
  3. César Auguste Franck: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 11: I. Allegro maestoso
  4. César Auguste Franck: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 11: II. Adagio
  5. César Auguste Franck: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 11: III. Rondo. Allegro

Disk 8

  1. Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major: I. Allegramente
  2. Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major: II. Adagio assai
  3. Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major: III. Presto
  4. Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major, M.82
  5. Claude Debussy: Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra, L. 73: I. Andante ma non troppo
  6. Claude Debussy: Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra, L. 73: II. Lento e molto espressivo – III. Allegro molto

Disk 9

  1. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: I. Le corso
  2. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: II. Tartaglia
  3. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: III. Isabelle
  4. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: IV. Rosetta
  5. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: V. Le bon et le mauvais tuteur
  6. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: VI. Coviello
  7. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: VII. Le capitaine cartuccia
  8. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: VIII. Polichinelle
  9. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: IX. Polka
  10. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: X. Cinzio
  11. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: XI. Souvenir de Rio
  12. Darius Milhaud: Le carnaval d’aix, Op. 83b: XII. Final
  13. Darius Milhaud: Ballade, Op. 61
  14. Darius Milhaud: 5 Études, Op. 63: I. Vif
  15. Darius Milhaud: 5 Études, Op. 63: II. Doucement
  16. Darius Milhaud: 5 Études, Op. 63: III. Fugues. Vif et rythmé
  17. Darius Milhaud: 5 Études, Op. 63: IV. Sombre
  18. Darius Milhaud: 5 Études, Op. 63: V. Romantique. Très animé
  19. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 127: I. Très vif
  20. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 127: II. Barcarolle
  21. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 127: III. Finale
  22. Darius Milhaud: Fantaisie pastorale, Op. 188

Disk 10

  1. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 225: I. Animé
  2. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 225: II. Romance
  3. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 225: III. Bien modérément animé
  4. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 270: I. Alerte et avec élégance
  5. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 270: II. Lent
  6. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 270: III. Avec esprit et élégance
  7. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 295: I. Animé
  8. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 295: II. Très lent
  9. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 295: III. Joyeux
  10. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 346: I. Alerte
  11. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 346: II. Nonchalant
  12. Darius Milhaud: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 346: III. Joyeux

Disk 11

  1. Nadia Boulanger: Fantaisie for ‘Piano and Orchestra: I. Lent. Grave – Allegro – Più vivo. Tempo molto marcato – Moderato – Andante – Allegro
  2. Germaine Tailleferre: Ballade
  3. Francis Poulenc: Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, FP 146: I. Allegretto
  4. Francis Poulenc: Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, FP 146: II. Andante con moto
  5. Francis Poulenc: Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, FP 146: III. Rondo à la française. Presto giocoso

Disk 12

  1. Jean Françaix: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra: I. Allegro giocoso
  2. Jean Françaix: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra: II. Doppio più lento
  3. Jean Françaix: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra: III. Scherzando
  4. Jean Françaix: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra: IV. Allegro tieramente
  5. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: I. Le petit jour. Très calme
  6. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: IV. Le lion amoureux. Passionnément animé
  7. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: V. L’Homme entre deux âges et ses deux maîtresses. Prestissimo
  8. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: VI. La mort et le bûcheron. Très lent
  9. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: VII. Les deux coqs. Très modéré
  10. Francis Poulenc: Les animaux modèles, FP 111: VIII. Le repas de midi
  11. Francis Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos in D Minor, FP 61: I. Allegro ma non troppo
  12. Francis Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos in D Minor, FP 61: II. Larghetto
  13. Francis Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos in D Minor, FP 61: III. Finale