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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67323
Recording details: September 2001
Ulster Hall, Belfast, United Kingdom
Produced by Chris Hazell
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2002
Total duration: 19 minutes 49 seconds

'Again and again while listening to Thierry Fischer's ebullient performances I smile and wish that I had met Jean Françaix' (Gramophone)

'An hour of pure joy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Ulster Orchestra sound captivated by this music, as well they might … pure pleasure from beginning to end' (International Record Review)

'This collection serves to remind us what 20th-century joys can be found away from the fashionable modernists. The Ulster players may not actually be French, but they fooled me. An utter delight' (The Times)

'The Ulster Orchestra has acquired a deserved reputation for the strength of its sectional work and the quality of its soloists, both aspects of performance that come to the fore in Françaix … Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'thoroughly entertaining and immensely intelligent' (The Evening Standard)

'Thierry Fischer secures some authentically Gallic character from the Ulster Orchestra … Wonderful' (Yorkshire Post)

'Très bien composé, ce nouveau disque témoigne parfaitement des influences et des particularismes de l’art clair et spirituel de Françaix' (Répertoire, France)

Symphony in G major

Allegretto  [5'02]
Andante  [4'55]
Menuet et Trio  [5'16]
Final  [4'36]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Françaix’ third Symphony is in four movements: Allegretto, Andante, Menuet et Trio, and Final. It cannot avoid comparison with Prokofiev’s ‘Classical’ Symphony, certainly in intent, but such a superficial view will not explain the originality and differences in musical character that lie between these two classically-structured symphonies. Françaix is at his most masterly here; the first movement opens with a simple theme on the strings, amabile, at once taken up by solo violin and flutes, from which we may expect a movement in pasticcio manner. But the tonality and harmony change perspectives and a new theme, flirting with the flat supertonic (!), declares this to be the twentieth century after all. The music proceeds in discursive style until the coda restores, at last, the pleasant G major tonality in which the movement began.

The simply planned slow movement is dominated by a long, beautiful theme on oboe d’amore, accompanied largely by muted strings. The theme is taken up by oboe, clarinet and flute (then, briefly, horn and trumpet), with other woodwind variants before the theme returns, above the rich string texture, to close the movement in a gentle C major. The minuet and trio is ostensibly in F major, but Françaix uses this old dance style merely as a structural ploy, for in many ways this is the most forward-looking movement in the symphony (especially in the Trio), full of delicate colours and subtle rhythmic emphasis. The lively Final is lucidly, but not always predictably, laid out, comprising statement, expanded counterstatement and coda. Texturally, it recollects the first movement, with a notable use of solo violin at important structural junctures. Haydn surely would have approved!

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2002

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