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Franck, Chausson: Symphonies - Janowski

Franck, Chausson: Symphonies - Janowski

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186078

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Franck: Symphony in D minor, Chausson: Symphony in B flat Op. 20

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Marek Janowski (conductor)

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18 of 22 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

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Review by Mark Novak - November 18, 2006

I'll start with the sonics of this disk. The sound is to a degree opaque, congealed, indistinct (2-channel SACD tracks). It sounds like the perspective from the back of the balconey. Is this perhaps Pentatone's first recording of this orchestra in this venue? If so, I think they can do much better based on their track record with other orchestras/venues to date. I see that some of the other reviewers expressed some reservations about the sound - I don't think they were critical enough. 2 and 1/2 stars for sonics then.

The performance of the Franck is quite enjoyable. I find this symphony to be a much better work than the Chausson. Franck uses more memorable themes throughout and generally has a higher energy level. I would place this performance along side the best - I was drwan in despite the lousy sound.

Now, the Chausson. BORING! I have actually subjected myself to two listens to this recording figuring it deserved a second chance and the second time through was no better. As I type, I am now listening to the Dorian/Dallas/Mata recording of the Chausson. It's a better recording sonically compared to the Janowski but it still is not enough to make me like this work very much. At one time I had a Denon cd of the Chausson conducted by Krivine but I must have traded that one in since its missing from my rack. I collect LOTS of music by second and third rank composers because I love the process of discovering hidden gems. This one ranks pretty low for me. If you are looking for music to put you to sleep, the Chausson is your ticket.

Copyright © 2006 Mark Novak and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Stereo):

stars stars

Review by John Broggio - December 30, 2006

My take on this disc is that the conductor is good (perhaps not great) and the works were carefully chosen to flatter this orchestra that is good (but definitely not great) - the sound is not as remarkable as other Pentatone issues whilst still being more than acceptable.

The account of the Franck is good, if not very good. It is very different from accounts that were (and are still) rightly fêted, such as Monteaux's wonderful BSO account. With noticeably faster tempi, Janowski moves through the score with a freshness that is quite disarming. One of the crunch points in this (uneven) score is the finale where a fugal episode isn't quite what a first-rate composer would have managed; Janowski almost succeeds in covering this weakness up entirely - no mean feat!

The Chausson symphony is new to me and even so, it is obvious that Janowski and his orchestra are really enjoying themselves greatly, relishing the lush textures. In many ways, this score is similar to the Franck - both have 3 movements which are highly episodic without the pastoral grace of Grieg. The work, unfortunately, is of limited interest to the mind even if it tickles the fancy of the ear. It is here that the orchestral strengths (and corresponding weaknesses) are most clearly revealed: the woodwind are delicate (perhaps too much so), the brass are discrete (and perhaps could be a little more powerful) and the strings are a unified section (although it sounds like a small number of players). The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are clearly in rude health - they may not suit all tastes but I would relish the opportunity to hear them in some French ballet music or some Saint-Seans (I note with interest that Pentatone does not yet have a modern "Organ" symphony).

The recording was made in the Dinemec Studio, in Gland (a small village on the lakeside, a short train ride from Geneva). Whilst a fair amount of detail surfaces, this does not have the clarity that one associates with the finest recordings that are released today and is without the last element of spaciousness that a recording from Vienna might bring.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

stars stars