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Louise Farrenc & Camille Saint-Saëns Romantic Dreams: Quintets for Piano and Strings (Ironwood)
Be transported back in time to the salons of 19th-century Paris by one of Australia’s finest historically inspired ensembles.
Acclaimed period-instrument ensemble Ironwood revive the sounds of the French Romantic through works by Louise Farrenc and Camille Saint-Saëns. These wonderful piano quintets provide contrasting glimpses of the rapidly changing tastes of mid-19th-century Paris, from the Schubertian Classicism in Farrenc’s piece to Saint-Saëns’ incredible work that seems to move from the Baroque to Blondie (yes, really!) via cabaret and the shimmering sounds of early Hollywood.
Ironwood’s novel interpretation of these works reflects the ensemble’s research into historical performance practices, informed by very early acoustic, electrical and piano roll recordings – including some by Saint-Saëns himself – and by contemporaneous written texts by French and Belgian musicians. Through this research, coupled with the sounds of gut-strung stringed instruments and an original Érard concert grand piano from 1869, this recording re-imagines the expressive sound world that these composers envisaged for their sumptuous music.
Louise Farrenc is a remarkable figure, a composer, pianist and teacher who was incredibly influential in her own lifetime – especially unusual for a woman in the early 1800s. In 1842 she became the first female professor to be appointed at the Paris Conservatoire, where she taught piano for thirty years and was successful in fighting for pay equal to her male colleagues. A star during her lifetime, her music was largely forgotten during the 20th century, but the resurgence in interest in female composers in recent years has seen her
works restored to prominence. This is the first recording of her work released on ABC Classic, and possibly the first-ever Australian recording.
Camille Saint-Saëns is far better-known today, with works such as Carnival of the Animals and his Third (‘Organ’) Symphony frequently recorded and performed. Though these works have assured his place in the mainstream of classical music, during his lifetime he was a progressive and ground-breaking composer, foreshadowing elements of composers in the French group known as Les Six and even Stravinsky.
Ironwood is a renowned Australian period-instrument ensemble admired for its historically informed exploration of repertoire from the late Renaissance to the late Romantic eras, as well as its support of newly commissioned works. Established in 2006, the ensemble draws on a wealth of experience and expertise, bringing together specialist leaders in the field. Ironwood has presented at the major festivals and concert series around Australia and has toured Europe and America. With several innovative recordings on the ABC Classic and Vexations840 labels, Ironwood is regularly broadcast nationally on ABC Classic and around the world. Ironwood has partnered with Musica Viva and has collaborated with The Song Company, Ensemble Offspring and a broad spectrum of Australian composers, exploring both old and new music in wide-ranging contexts.
LOUISE FARRENC 1804–1875
Quintet for piano and strings No. 1 in A minor, Op. 30[31’10]
1 I. Allegro 12’50
2 II. Adagio non troppo 6’17
3 III. Scherzo (Presto) 3’54
4 IV. Finale (Allegro) 8’17
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS 1835–1921
Quintet for piano and strings in A minor, Op. 14 [32’25]
5 I. Allegro moderato e maestoso 11’21
6 II. Andante sostenuto 6’24
7 III. Presto 5’39
8 IV. Allegro assai, ma tranquillo 8’58