ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
JEAN FRANÇAIX - Chamber Music


JEAN FRANÇAIX - Octet - Clarinet Quintet - Divertissement - Charis Ensemble - 760623030029 - Released: February 2012 - MDG 3080300

There is something about French music, and in particular French chamber music, from composers as diverse as Alkan, Poulenc, Satie, Ravel, Ibert and so many more, that radiates a joie de vivre, a juvenile wit, a clin d'oeil comique, a verbose use of notes, and Jean Françaix (1912-1997) is no exception to that rule. His music displays a wealth of imagination and various ideas simultaneously pointing in different directions, but all held together by a type of micro-management glue that generates constant interplay and cross-talk between all the instruments. Just listen to the background chatter of the horn in the Scherzo of the Octet for example, magnificently played by David Bryant. Surely the use of fewer notes could have sufficed, but that is the basis of Françaix's style. The faster movements in particular never leave any instrument idle for very long. And it's a real pleasure for us to try and follow along and make sense of it all. Not to say that this music is lacking in emotional depth and formal discipline. Far from it. The opening Moderato of the Octet and the Grave of the Quintet both display grace, beauty and a profound understanding of human emotion evoked through sound.

The Charis Ensemble, Rainer Sonne (violin), Brigitte Rocholl (violin), Jaap Zeijl (viola), Anette Adorf-Brenner (cello), Norbert Brenner (double bass), Diethelm Adorf (clarinet), Stephan Rudiger (bassoon) and David Bryant (horn) all bring their individuality to the mix, combined with highly precise teamwork. They relish in the implied levity of the music, and with their spirited approach bring it out in plain sight. These recordings date back to the late 80s, so it's nice to have them all packaged together now on one disc.

Jean-Yves Duperron - March 2012