WORKS: Symphony in D minor; Le chasseur maudit; Les Éolides
PERFORMER: Arnhem PO/Roberto Benzi
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553631
This orchestra and conductor are new to me, but they make a good team in this music – the Dutch players and French-born conductor (of Italian parents) ideally catch that Teutonic-Gallic dichotomy in Franck’s music and upbringing. This disc is promised as the first volume in a series of his orchestral music from Naxos – not that there’s a great deal of stature beyond the present symphony and these, his finest symphonic poems. But on the basis of these performances, they should be worth collecting.
The symphonic poems – one a horn-drenched depiction of a wild hunt, the other a light-textured evocation of Parnassian winds – are atmospherically drawn, and the Symphony has structural strength, orchestral weight and a fine sense of Franck’s rhythmic exuberance. The playing might not rival that of the best international orchestras, but there’s plenty to enjoy.
There’s a certain lack of warmth in the recorded sound – sometimes a sudden pause after one of Franck’s organ-textured chords cries out for the resonance of a cathedral acoustic – but it is counteracted by its openness and dynamic range. Matthew Rye