Francaix: L’Horloge de Flore; Trio; Quartet

COMPOSERS: Francaix
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Francaix
WORKS: L’Horloge de Flore; Trio; Quartet
PERFORMER: Lajos Lencsés (oboe); Parisii Quartett, Françaix-Trio; SWR Radio SO, Stuttgart/Uri Segal
CATALOGUE NO: 999 779-2
‘The older I get, the more I appreciate humour and love.’ Those qualities are regularly reflected in the music of Jean Françaix, a still significantly underrated composer. They pervade, for instance, the delightfully urbane and elegant Botanical Clock, a 16-minute composition for oboe and orchestra with seven brief movements characterising flowers whose petals open at different times of day. Soloist Lajos Lencsés contributes delectably pert, pointed playing in movements such as ‘Silène noctiflore’, while the cantilena qualities of the instrument are spotlit in the creamy duetting with flute in ‘Belle de Nuit’.

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The other piece for oboe is a chirruping Trio with bassoon and piano (the latter played by Françaix’s son Claude), where the melodically beguiling Andante leaves a particularly memorable impression. The youthful String Quartet is a little marvel of wittiness and concision, while the other quartet here (for cor anglais, violin, viola and cello), though from much later, is similarly graceful and bubbling with high spirits. Performances are unfailingly alert and nimbly expressive; for Francophiles this is an unmissable CD. Terry Blain