Drifting Away with Franck and Baudelaire

Franck Trio 2019new
Setting sail. © Charles Thibo

That tension. That calmness. That odd unity of conflicting emotions I sensed in César Franck’s Piano Trio Concertant No. 1, I also find it in his Piano Trio Concertant No. 3 in B Minor. The piano sets forth the forceful rhythm and the timbre while the violin and the cello weave their deliciously lyrical melodies, at times plaintful, at times reassuring. A piece of ravishing beauty that I did discover only very recently,  I must admit. But it is never to late to discover excellence.

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Serene Anxiety upon an Inspiration by Bach

I would like to hope that this summer will be a summer of peace, despite the drum beats in different parts of the world. I wish this summer could be devoted to the contemplation of the beauty of nature and of mankind’s cultural achievements. I wish it could inspire policy makers to realize that in a globalized world, pitting one nation against the other is a zero-sum game, inviting to revenge, and will ultimately lead to a loose-loose situation. Global issues need to be addressed in a comprehensive way and in a spirit of cooperation. There is no planet B. For nobody.

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Emotion and elegance fused in an early work

Franck Trio1
Grace. © EW

The first few seconds were sufficient to capture my attention. Darkness. Grace. Consolation. Enlightenment. Tension. Spirituality. Salvation. What a piece! In 1839 César Franck wrote his Trio Concertant No. 1 for Piano, Violin and Cello, one out of three that form his Op. 1, published in 1843. Franck – one of the most eminent French composers of the 19th century. He had been trained at the conservatory of Liège, a city that was part of the Dutch kingdom until Belgium gained its independence. Franck – the composer who failed to enter the Paris conservatory for the simple reason that he wasn’t a French national. Naturalization took a year and in 1836 he started to take lessons in piano and counterpoint at the prestigious Conservatoire.

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Wondrous Music that Will Not Be Forgotten

Evening mood. © Charles Thibo

This piece has melancholy written large all over it. The first bars, the slow, lamenting tune of the violin, the accentuation by the piano. This piece has salvation written large all over it. The first bars, the crystal clear piano phrases exuding calmness, the violin pointing to a better future. What a piece! The violinist Isabelle Faust and the pianist Alexander Melnikov recently released their recording of César Franck’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in A Major, FW 8, and I fell in love with it precisely from those first bars on.

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