COMPOSERS: Faure; Franck; Messager
ALBUM TITLE: Messager • Fauré • Franck
WORKS: Symphony in A
PERFORMER: Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano); Mans SO/José-André Gendille
CATALOGUE NO: DSK 3921 (distr. Discovery)
These are perfectly acceptable performances by a decent second-rank orchestra in more than adequate sound. Jean-Pierre Ferey’s account of the solo part of the Franck Symphonic Variations is nicely turned, but is never going to displace the top recommendable versions. What gives this disc its interest are the two other pieces. André Messager is now virtually unknown except as a composer of operetta: his Symphony in A, written in 1875 at the age of 21, is a very pleasant piece with a pronounced Mendelssohnian streak as well as shades of Schumann and his teacher Saint-Saëns, and written with an almost balletic lightness of touch. Even the obligatory fugal writing (here unexpectedly in the scherzo) flows naturally and gracefully – it’s hardly an important work, but worth the occasional hearing. Fauré’s 1873 Allegro symphonique, the only surviving movement of what he was uncertain about calling a symphony or an orchestral suite, is surely the least-known of his orchestral works. The epithet ‘symphonic’ seems to refer merely to the fact that the piece is in sonata form: it is innocent of rhetoric or indeed much drama. Overwhelmingly lyrical, deft in polyphonic working-out and with occasional unexpected modulations, it, too, is well worth the occasional performance. Not a disc to set the world on fire, but collectors of out-of-the-way French music may well feel it justifies the outlay.