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Accentus - Laurence Equilbey|Louise Farrenc: Symphonies Nos. 1-3, Overtures Nos. 1 & 2

Louise Farrenc: Symphonies Nos. 1-3, Overtures Nos. 1 & 2

Laurence Equilbey

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Arguably the greatest success in the ongoing rediscovery of neglected music by women has been Louise Farrenc, who, at the last turn of the century, was all but unknown. She managed to become a professor of piano at the Conservatoire de Paris, even though women students were not admitted, and much of her piano music is bold and entirely distinctive. Her chamber music, including a Nonet that was celebrated even in its own time, is also very strong. Farrenc's orchestral music, all of which is gathered on the present release except for that involving piano, dates from later in her career and is not quite on the same level, but any audience of the 1840s, when all three symphonies were composed, would have considered them state-of-the-art. The two minor-key works are Beethovenian in spirit and in concision; there is nothing of the diffuse structures of a Hummel or a Czerny here. Surely Farrenc knew the orchestral music of Mendelssohn, clearly audible in the sprightly Symphony No. 2 in D major, in D major, Op. 35. Another model is Mozart; compare the Overture No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 24, with the mature opera overtures of Mozart, especially that of Don Giovanni. Farrenc's orchestration is lively throughout. The historical-instrument performances of the Insula Orchestra and conductor Laurence Equilbey are not as smooth as other work by this ensemble but probably do a good job of conveying what this music sounded like at its first performances. Essential for collections of music by women, this release is highly listenable for anyone.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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Louise Farrenc: Symphonies Nos. 1-3, Overtures Nos. 1 & 2

Accentus - Laurence Equilbey

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1
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: I. Andante sostenuto. Allegro
00:09:34

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

2
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: II. Adagio cantabile
00:09:09

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

3
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: III. Minuetto. Moderato
00:04:27

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

4
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: IV. Allegro assai
00:08:12

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

5
Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 36: I. Adagio. Allegro
00:09:32

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

6
Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 36: II. Adagio cantabile
00:10:33

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

7
Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 36: III. Scherzo. Vivace
00:06:41

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

8
Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 36: IV. Finale. Allegro
00:06:41

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2021 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

9
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 35: I. Andante. Allegro
00:11:09

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

10
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 35: II. Andante
00:08:32

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

11
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 35: III. Scherzo. Vivace
00:06:10

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

12
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 35: IV. Andante. Allegro
00:08:42

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

13
Overture No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 23
00:06:55

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

14
Overture No. 2 in E-Flat Major, Op. 24
00:07:08

Laurence Equilbey, Conductor, MainArtist - Louise Farrenc, Composer - Insula Orchestra, Orchestra

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2023 Parlophone Records Limited ℗ 2023 ERDA, under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Album review

Arguably the greatest success in the ongoing rediscovery of neglected music by women has been Louise Farrenc, who, at the last turn of the century, was all but unknown. She managed to become a professor of piano at the Conservatoire de Paris, even though women students were not admitted, and much of her piano music is bold and entirely distinctive. Her chamber music, including a Nonet that was celebrated even in its own time, is also very strong. Farrenc's orchestral music, all of which is gathered on the present release except for that involving piano, dates from later in her career and is not quite on the same level, but any audience of the 1840s, when all three symphonies were composed, would have considered them state-of-the-art. The two minor-key works are Beethovenian in spirit and in concision; there is nothing of the diffuse structures of a Hummel or a Czerny here. Surely Farrenc knew the orchestral music of Mendelssohn, clearly audible in the sprightly Symphony No. 2 in D major, in D major, Op. 35. Another model is Mozart; compare the Overture No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 24, with the mature opera overtures of Mozart, especially that of Don Giovanni. Farrenc's orchestration is lively throughout. The historical-instrument performances of the Insula Orchestra and conductor Laurence Equilbey are not as smooth as other work by this ensemble but probably do a good job of conveying what this music sounded like at its first performances. Essential for collections of music by women, this release is highly listenable for anyone.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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